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Cornell university Library 
PA 4229.L4 1906 

Longinus On the sublime. 

3 1924 014 233 450 

Cornell University 

The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

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In a copjr of the first edition of the treatise knovni 
since the revival of letters as Longinus an the Sublime, 
which is now in the Library of the British Museum, 
may be read a few lines, written in Latin, by the great 
scholar Isaac Casaubon, beginning with the words 'A 
golden book.' Quite recently Professor Butcher has 
written of it as an ' essay of unique value and interest.' 
It is unique, partly, because pf its rare intrinsic excel- 
lence ; which gives it a place among the remains of - 
Greek criticism, only shared by the work of Aristotle. 
so diderent from it in every respect, on the Art of 
Poetry. This high quality is allowed to it by a 
long series of critics and scholars, — from Addison, 
who first recommended it to a large public of English 
readers, to Professor Saintsbury. But we need not 
appeal to authority ; the true test is to read the little 
work through, and to ask from how many wo'iters, 
ancient or modern, we could have borne the continuous 
development of the one theme, ' Be great ! live with 
great minds! ' — how we should have felt if the wise and 
humane Plutarch, or the careful and sound-beaded 
Dionysius of Halicarnwsua, had tried to enforce it ? Yet 
no one reads the Treatise for the first time without 
feeling that he has found a literary guide of rare ability 
to direct, to invigorate, to ennoble his thought. 
Moreover, it has inspired other critics. Burke had the 

Ti Introduction 

older study before him, though he only once directly 
refers to it, when he wrote his Philosophical Inquiry 
into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 
\ an early work, interesting to us, not only for its strong 
and dignified style, but also as being a charaaeristic 
attempt to base upon principles our judgements on 
matters of taste and opinion ; important also, as having 
had much to do with the conception by Lessing of the 
ideas contained in his Laocoon. Sir Joshua Reynolds 
draws from our author many of the precepts laid down 
in the Discourses, and often all but quotes his words. 
Bishop Lowth applied the teaching of the Treatise in 
his own fresh and vigorous Lectures on Hebrew Poetry. 
It is quoted again and again, vrith evidently genuine 
enjoyment, by numbers of English writers in poetry 
and prose ; by none more often, or with livelier appre- 
ciation, than by Fielding *- 

Over and above its singular attractiveness and solid 
worth, there are other considerations which make the 
Treatise unique. It is written in a style which is sui 
generis, often more Latin than Greek, both in rhythm 
and in conception, yet sometimes neither Latin nor 
Greek, and always impressed with the strong per- 
sonality of the writer. The interest in authors and 
books, other than Greek, is unusual, but must have 
appeared also in the work of Caecilius upon the same 
subject, to which it is, in effect, an answer. The 

' See an article in the Quarterly Review of October| 1900, 
which the reader should consult (or Prof. Churton Collins' Studies 
in Poetry and Criticism, 1906). 

Introduction vii 

range from which its abundant metaphors are drawn is 
both wide and remarkable. Lastly, its strange literary 
history appeals strongly to our curiosity. It has 
reached us through a copy written in the tenth century, 
itself so mutilated in various parts that about a third 
of the original contents is wanting, without a single 
word of earlier comment or notice vouchsafed to us by 
antiquity — a babe cast up by the stern waters of Time, 
without father or mother or any credentials of origin, 
but of features which assure us certainly that it comes 
of noble line. 

Questions of date and authorship meet us at the 
outset, and we will at once try to see clearly how they 
lie. In a sense, it is possible to make too much of such 
uncertainties. Any ancient critical work coming 
from an author who had the great Greek books in his 
hands, just as we have, only in a more complete form, 
and who read them in the language of his own daily 
life and from a Greek point of view, has that about it 
which no modern estimate can supply ; a century or 
two earlier or later is no great matter. On the other 
hand, the general conditions of thought and of modes 
of expression may change very greatly within such an 
interval. Moreover, we naturally speak of a book, and 
use it, with much greater confidence when we know all 
about it — who wrote it, and when, and with what 
purpose — than when these are all unknovra quantities. 
Take such a writer as Horace, one whose personal 
circumstances we know so familiarly, and whose judge- 
ment worked so evenly, that he may be trusted to say 

viii Introductim 

the same thing under the same conditions at almost 
any period of his life. Yet we feel on much firmer 
ground when we are considering the contents, say, of 
the First Book of Epistles, than if we turn to the Second 
Book or to the Ars Poetica, where so many preliminary 
doubts must be settled or left by agreement svh iudice, 
before we are free to deal with the contents. So the 
critical student enters upon Hamlet or Coriolanus with 
a mind steadier and less preoccupied than he brings 
to the study of, say, The Tempest or Romeo and Juliet. 
The facts are briefly these. In the old manuscript 
already mentioned, the treatise is headed in Greek 
words: OfDionysiusLanginus concemingSublimity. This 
was reproduced in the earliest editions printed in the 
middle of the sixteenth century, and it seems never to 
have been doubted that the author was the same person 
as Cassius Longinus, a great teacher of philosophy and 
language in the third century a. d., who was adviser 
to Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, and paid with his life 
for his share in her unfortunate rising against Aurelian 
(Gibbon, chap. xi). Early in the nineteenth century 
it came to be known, in the first place by a discovery 
made by an Italian scholar, Amati, in the Vatican 
Library, that the title was variously given ; that the 
old tenth-century Paris copy itself, though it bore the 
name of Dionysius Longinus above the text, yet con- 
.tained an index in which the treatise was ascribed to 
' Dionysius or Longinus.' A copy at Florence, dating 
\ from the fifteenth century, is headed simply Of Longinus 
on Sublimity if Language, and has, on a slip of parch- 

Introduction ix 

ment affixed to the cover, words both of Greek and 
Latin, ascribing the work to an ' anonymous ' or ' un- 
certain author.' 

As no syllable of information has reached us from 
any source earlier than the old manuscript itself, it 
seemsreasonable, unless a presumption can be established 
in favour of any one of these traditions, to conclude 
that all are so many hypotheses or guesses, excepting 
that one which leaves the author uncertain. So a 
certain work attributed to Aristotle, but certainly not 
his, was also attributed, in ancient times, to Plato, 
another to Theophrastus. The difficulty long felt as 
to the combination of the Greek and Roman names 
' Dionysius-Longinns ' may not be insuperable ; but, 
when the names are those of two of the best-known 
critics of antiquity, it is much to ask us to believe that 
they were ever borne in real life by one man. 

The further hypothesis which grew up, not suggested 
by any tradition, that the person described by this 
double name was in fact the historical Cassius Longinus, 
should, if correct, be readily supported by some such pre- 
sumption as we have suggested ; since the philosopher- 
statesman left many writings, both on philosophy, 
and on literary subjects, of which we possess consider- 
able fragments ; yet no passage has been alleged which 
can fairly be quoted in this sense. The most favour- 
able is one occurring in the Rhetoric of Longinus : ' Such 
language is, as it were, the light of thoughts and argu- 
ments.' This is sufficiently like ' beautiful words are, 
in all truth, a light peculiar to mind' (p. 55), but 

X Introduction 

the image finds a counterpart also in Plutarch ' : — 
' As light to those who see, so speech is a good 
to those who hear,' and is, in fact, familiar in the 
phraseology of the Latin critics ; while the idea of 
some words being intrinsically beautiful is quoted by 
Dionysius as from Theophrastus, three centuries before 
his own time. On some particular points the presump- 
tion is actually against identifying the two persons ; 
such are the classification of the 'figures,' and the 
estimate of particular orators, though it would not be 
fair to press these discrepancies too closely. 

It may seem somewhat strange that we cannot 
speak with more decision as to the internal evidence 
bearing on the question whethe r the treatise was 
composed in the first century or the third of our era, 
and whether it was or was not by tiie same hand as the 
parts of the Rhetoric recovered by the great scholar 
D. Ruhnken, and the other undoubted work of Cassius 
■'Longinus, for these are the two issues really before us. 
Such internal evidence would naturally present itself 
under the heads of — persons or events mentioned, voca- 
bulary and style, and general point of view, whether 
literary or philosophical. In glancing at these three 
points, we must remember that more cogent evidence is 
required to set aside a tradition already existing, even 
a faint one, than to establish a claim de novo ; and we 
therefore repeat that the inscription of the Treatise on 
the Sublime, which is the sole source of any tradition, 
leaves the authorship entirely uncertain. 

' Df rec: rat. aud: c. 5. 

Introduction li 

Of the numerous orators, poets, and historians 
discussed and quoted in the Treatise, the latest in 
date is probably Matris (p. 6) ; at any rate, no one 
is named who belongs to a period later than the Au- 
gustan. It was formerly thought that Ammonius, 
named on p. 30, was an exception, but it turns out to 
be anexceptionwhich'proves the rule,'for thereference 
is certainly not to Ammonius Saccas,one of the teachers 
of Cassius Longinus, but to a critic who lived before 
the time of Augustus, and who wrote on the particular 
subjects indicated in the passage. Again, the Treatise 
is based upon a work with the same title by Caecilius, a 
critic who enjoyed great reputation in the first century 
A.D., and himself lived in its earlier years. It is possible, 
but seems very unlikely, that an answer (for all the men- 
tions of Caecilius are unfavourable) should be made in 
so much detail to a work written several generations 
back ; and the words used suggest at least that the 
author and the younger friend addressed read the 
work of Caecilius together when it was fresh from his 
pen. The notice of dwarfs (p, 79) and of the Pythian 
oracle (p. 30) make for the earlier date, and also the 
mention, in the imperfect tense, of a practice of Theo- 
dorus of Gadara, tutor of the Emperor Tiberius (p. 7). 
Of Postumius Terentianus nothing is known. From 
the terms in which he is addressed, he appears to have 
been a younger friend, and a close friend, of the author. 
' Excellent ' (p. 70) should imply official rank (see 
Acts xxiii. z6, and xxvi. 25), and the author has in 
view readers among men in public life (p. i). How- 



ever, tie ' Complaisant man ' of Tbeopiifastus {char, v) 
hails an ordtoary sequaintance as ' Exeellent.' 

The style of the Trf^Hse-f that is, of the Greek con- 
structions and idioms used, does not seem to give any 
tangible criterion. The Greek used by writers of the 
time of the Roman Empire was fixed and artificial, 
with little growth or -ritality of its own, but capable 
of immense variation, according to the individuality 
of authors so different as Dionysins, Plutarch, Dion 
ChrysQstom, Lucian. Vocabulary does offer a test: 
'the subject caimot be profitably discussed here, bnt it 
may be said that a careful analysis has been made by 
M. Louis Vaueher', who finds that there are few terms, 
not quite common-place, which are used both in the 
Trfatise and also by Cassius Longinus, while a very 
large number of words characteristic of the former 
seem to have fallen out of use when the latter wrote, 
or had changed their meaning. We may mention, as 
a term of some general interest, the word Allegory 
(p. 17) ; it is used, as it is by Quintilian and Cicero, 
in the sense familiar to us, whereas in the RhftorU of 
Iionginus it means the substitution, for the sake of 
variety, of one word or phrase for another. That 
M. Vaucher went on, strangely as it has seemed to 
most people, to argue that the author of onr Treatise 
was no other than Plutarch, does not in any way 
impair the cogency of his negative conclusion, nor yet 
the great value and interest of his excellent studies. 

The attitude of Cassius Longinus to the great authors 
' Etudeti eriH^Ms, 1854. 

Introduction xiii 

is widely different from that of our Treatise. Both 
write as men of vast reading and of a high ordef of 
intellect, both admire profoundly and intelligently 
the masters of Greek letters. But the former thints of 
them, and recommends them, as models of style, the 
latter as containing and inspiring great thought. Both 
Were sincere admirers of Plato, and both found, or 
allowed the existence of certain shortcomings; but the 
oae critic most enjoys his felicity of language and 
harmony of composition, the other the richness and 
grandeur of his conception. Equally different is their 
feeling to the world of men outside. The Minister 
of Z^nobia was a Neo-PlatoBist teacher, perhaps more 
at home, as was said of him by Plotinus, in philology 
than in philosophy, yet concerned with questions of 
the soul and of Being. The Treatise is written for 
men engaged in public life ; the one worthy end of 
life is, in the author's eyes, not speculation but service, 
the relief of man's estate. The word is common in 
Plato, though used rather of service to friends and 
comrades than to humanity; we recognize it as the aim 
of a Prometheus, a Hercules, a Socrates. To Cicero 
and to the later Academics, as well as to the Stoics, it 
was familiar, but it had no place in Neo-Platonic 
teaching. In other respects, the outlook upon life is, 
as has been remarked, much that of Tacitus ; the 
complaint of the paucity of men of genius or greatness, 
the observation that we disparage what is virith us and 
eitol the past, the demand for liberty as for the air 
essential to great thought. And the ideas in it belong. 

xiv Introduction 

in conception and character, as has been ktely ex- 
plained with great force hj a scholar of authority 
(G. KaibeP), to an age when thought was free, and 
when great questions were daily thrown into its glow- 
ing crucible, not to one of cramped formulae and rigid 

We part very unwillingly with a tradition which 
assigns so interesting a book to so barren a period, and 
which associates it with the name of a great and un- 
fortunate man. Probably it will always be known 
under the name of Longinus, and little harm will be 
done. I have stated the conditions of the problem, of 
course, in very brief outline. As the author says : 
' Let every one take the view which pleases him, and 
enjoy it.' 

The nature and quality of the criticism contained in 
the Treatise will be best learned from the author him- 
self, and we need not anticipate. Two points are 
especially conspicuous. One is the sureness of the 
judgement with which he fixes on the really great 
writers and the real causes of their greatness. His 
steady eye is never dazzled by the glare of some merely 
ephemeral reputation. ' Every college youth,' says a 
speaker in the Dialogue of Tacitus, ' hugs the opinion 
that he is a better speaker than Cicero, though of 
course far below Gabinianus,' and this pardonable 
enthusiasm is a really distracting element in criticism. 
Yet our critic does not disparage his contemporaries, 
and recognizes the infirmity, apparent to Horace and to 
' Hermes, vol. xxxiv. 

Introduction iv 

Tacitus, which, makes us prone to that pettiness. The 
result is that his verdict is at one with that recorded 
by the universal voice of men, of all places, and in every 
age. The other point is his constant endeavour — one 
which we have already noticed in Burke — to rest his 
judgement upon settled principles — the true criteria 
of greatness, the necessity of selecting and combining 
salient points, the relation of passion to the forms of 
speech, the value of harmonious composition. 

Of his own style we need add little. The reader 
will notice how, unconsciously following his own 
principles, he falls into the vein of the author whom he 
is for the time discussing, and seems to reproduce 
the profuse imagery of Plato, the grace of Hyperides, 
the condensation of Demosthenes, and the ' perils ' of 
the mighty periods of the same supreme orator. 

Two particular metaphors call for a word of notice. 
One lies in the elaborate series of images drawn from 
the craft of the mason (pp. 26, 74, &c.). 

To us they seem familiar enough, though the expres- 
sions used are difficult, perhaps because they have 
entered into our language through the New Testament, 
and ultimately from the Old. In Greek poets we 
have frequent reference, in connexion with Fate, to the 
coping-stone, a rudimentary feature of the art ; one 
reference to more elaborate structures in Euripides' 
Hifpolytus, 468 ; and one to a splendid temple-front 
in Pindar. But, in fact. Architecture did not rank as 
one of the Fine Arts, and perhaps did not greatly stir the 
Greek mind; one of its purposes was to provide a 



framework for beautiful earring or pictures, but in it- 
sdf it was merely ' useful ' (see Butcher, Aristotle's Theory 
of Poetry and Fine Art, c. ii). Nor was it far otherwise 
in Roman ideas. The imagery repeatedly drawn from 
walls and their constituents in this Treatise touches 
on something new. 

Another remarkable image is that applied to Homer, 
who, in the old age of his genius, which gave birth to 
the Odyssey, is likened to the sea at ebb tide, confined 
within the solitude of his own proper limits, but leav- 
ii^ pools and creeks about which the retiring waters 
meander. This personal conception of Ocean, an old 
man with a proper home of his own, recalls the romantic 
character in the Prometheus of Aeschylus, and it is 
strange that critics have found diflSculty in the words 
used in our text. But the tides were not, and could 
not be, within the observation of Greek writers, who 
have therefore contributed little to the science or to 
the poetry connected with them. The Romans have 
litde more to tell us, till we come to Caesar and his 
experiences in Gaul ; and there are some really striking 
lines in Silius Italicus describing the surprise of 
Hannibal, when he passed the Straits of Gibraltar, 
aad found the new expeiieace awaiting him on the 
Atlantic coast. Tacitus also, in th« Agricola, expresses 
his wonder at the great tidal rivers of Britain. The 
phenomenon is one which woold be sure to appeal to 
our author, with his awe at all that is vast in Nature ; 
but we should like to know in w&at part of the worM 
his own eyes had seen it. 

Introduction rvii 

A characteristic feature of the Treatise is the abun- 
dance of quotations. Many passages, some long ones, 
are quoted for the purpose of literary criticism, from 
Homer, Plato, Demosthenes, and numerous other 
writers. Great liberties are taken with the text ; two 
or more passages of Homer are rolled into one, sen- 
tences of Demosthenes are curtailed, and words or 
phrases are altered. There is nothing to he surprised 
at in this j the precise Aristotle is a very loose quoter. 
Apart from these, the writer often glides into the words 
of a poet or of Plato, and makes them his own ; in 
many cases we can recognize the passage (see pp. 40, 
81) ; in others the metrical run of the words, and their 
poetical colouring (sometimes, as on p. 64, the dialect), 
make it probable that they are borrowed. This habit 
of unacknowledged quotation, though not unparalleled 
in Greek and Latin writers, has a strangely modern 
effect ; still more so when there is a touch of senti- 
ment, as when we are told (p. Bj), in the words of a 
well-known epigram, that the fame of great writers is 
safe and inalienable 

As long as waters flow and poplars bloom. 

The word ' sublime,' which is now inseparably 
associated with this treatise, is a somewhat embarrassing 
one in English, but perhaps its analysis need not trouble 
us much. It is not found at all in Shakespeare, nor 
apparently in Spenser, but is used freely by Milton ; 
probably Boileau and Addison have had much to do 
with making it at home in our language. Coleridge, who 
has elsewhere examined the word more fully, is reported 

LONG. TR. }q 

xviii Introduction 

in the Table Talk as saying : ' Could you ever discover 
anything sublime, in our sense of the term, in the 
Classical Greek Literature ? I never could. Sublimity 
is Hebrew by birth.' Certainly V7e feel that the word 
is more properly applied to certain parts of the Old 
Testament than to anything else — to the account of the 
Creation, to the Book of Job. There are passages of 
Greek literature, wluch any of us could name as almost 
equally deserving to be called sublime, but it is notice- 
able that, with the exception of the Death of Oedipus, 
and perhaps of some others, they are not among those 
mentioned in the Treatise. We should like to ask 
Coleridge the exact meaning of ' in our sense of the 
term.' When so correct a writer as Goldsmith makes 
Dr. Primrose tell us how he thought proper to exhort 
his family before the happy marriages which make the 
Vicar a ' comedy ' : ' I told them of the grave, becom- 
ing, and sublime deportment they should assume upon 
this mystical occasion,' the last adjective seems to 
have travelled far from any Hebrew assodations. 
Certainly the German language may be held fortunate 
in possessing a word of home growth to express the 

' Best leave these things to take their chance,' as our 
author quotes (p. 8i), and turn to the word used in 
the original. It means simply ' height,' and we have 
no reason to think that, before the treatise of Caecilius, 
it or its adjective had been used in any fixed literary 
sense. The Latin equivalent, sublimis, is often so used, 
but perhaps always with some feeling of the original 



meaning of height as a dimension in space. In the 
ff^atw, sublimity is almost equivalent to greatness, but 
the author expressly tells us that there may be great- 
ness without sublimity. The two words ' sublimity ' 
and ' greatness ' are used in the singular and the plural, 
in an abstract and in a concrete sense, in a manner often 
baffling to a translator. For the greatness which is so 
near sublimity the author has a profound respect, 
which the true Greek hardly shares. Size is a factor 
of beauty in Aristotle's view, but primarily because 
a certain size is needed to make the symmetry of parts 
perceptible ; of the awe-inspiring wonder which raises 
the beautiful to the sublime he gives no hint. Hero- 
dotus wonders at the Nile ; but with the wonder of 
curiosity as to its hidden origin and mysterious periods 
of fullness, and its symmetry with rivers of Europe, 
the wonder which says ' I want to know,' not the 
wonder which hears a voice warning him that the 
ground is holy ; a true Greek would feel the same if 
brought in sight of the Victoria Falls or the ' Golden 
Throne.' Our author speaks with awe of the great 
things in Nature, because they are great ; of Nile and 
Ister and Ocean, and of that Aetna which to Pindar 
was merely a piUar of dazzling snow planted on the 
shaggy breast of the foe of Zeus, vomiting fire un- 

So of intellectual greatness ; the test of it isjthe-awe- 
whict-itanspires. Hyperides never'makes his hearer 
afraid, Demosthenes is terrible as a thunderstorm ; 
if Homer falls ofi in his Odyssey, it is because he pleases 


XX Introduction 

and interests, but no longer awes. This point of view 
\ is pressed throughout the treatise with an intensity and 
\ earnestness which would be monotonous if there were 
mot so much power, expressed and latent, under it all. 
No sense of humour relieves the tension ; little dis- 
tinction is, in fact, made between prose and poetry, 
though the author recognizes (p. 33) that they require 
separate treatment ; he scolds Plato for his imagery, 
without allowing for the fact that Plato is avowedly 
quoting poetry. Yet the sheer greatness of the argu- 
ment invariably saves it, and it is the greatness of a 
good man. In this short and fragmentary pamphlet 
of an austere and strenuous critic, we hear sometimes 
the notes of that wisdom which is ' kind to man,' and 
catch gleams of that intellectual light which is ' full 
of love.' 

Some apology may seem to be required for a new 
translation of a book which has been so excellently 
translated already, I can only offer the old one, that 
no translation of a classical author is final, and that a 
new translator may bring out some sides of an author's 
meaning which have not perhaps been already repre- 
sented, I hope that I have not carried independence 
too far in replacing (on p. 63) a singularly happy 
phrase of Sir R. C. Jebb's, which I had at first wished 
to borrow, by inferior words. But it appeared, on 
reflection, that a brilliant phrase, when borrowed, 
becomes something other than itself ; it acquires, so 
to say, a second intention, and is more rightly left in 
its own surroundings. To the complete and scholarly 

Introduction xxi 

work of Professor Rhys Roberts, which has done so much 
to make the study of the Treatise possible to others, 
and to the brilliant translation of Mr. Havell, I feel 
myself constantly indebted. Perhaps the translation 
on which I have most relied for help has been the fine 

"u^atin version of Bishop Pearce. 

I have a more personal debt of obligation, which 
I warmly and gratefully acknowledge, to my friends 

J Mr. E. D. A. Morsheai^and Mr. H. E. Butler, for 
VSucffTnvalSaSii^i^^and to the Rev. A. H. Cruick- 
shank for guidance in a matter of special difficulty. 
For any omissions or errors I am solely responsible. 

The text used has been that of the Oxford Classical 
Texts, 1906, to the notes of which I may be allowed 
to refer any scholar into whose hands this translation 
may come. The passages from Homer are quoted in 
Worsley's translation (completed by Osnington) ; 
those from other authors in standard translations 
where available. The division into sections (an extra- 
ordinarily perverse one) is due to an edition of 1569. 
I have usually referred to pages. 

In the Appendix will be found specimen passages 
translated from various later Greek critics, of whom 
the historical Cassius Longinus is one ; a note on 
certain Latin critics considered in relation to the 
subject-matter of the Treatise; and some extracts 
from Bishop Lowth's Professorial Lectures on Hebrew 
Poetry, translated from the Latin. 


Sect. i. The treatment of the Sublime by CaecUius 
is inadequate, and fails to tell practical men how its 
effects are attained. The Sublime is ' an eminence and 
excellence of language,' and its aim both in poetry and 
in prose is to carry men out of themselves : this is done 
by a single powerful and well-timed stroke. 

Sect. 2. Is there an art of Sublimity, i. e. can the 
word Art be applied to what is natural ? Yes ; for 
Nature herself does not work at random, and the 
greatest natural forces are the most dangerous unless 
regulated (Nature comes first. Art is second, but no 
less essential). Also it requires Art to estimate genius 

[/i gap equal to about 6 pages of this lool^ 
[The special dangers to which great genius is exposed.] 

Sect. 3. (i) TurgUity (instance from Tragedy) : 
this is ajhrtiori a fault in prose. It is a fault to which 
all greatness is liable, and easily works round to its 
opposite, (ii) PueriKty — the very opposite of great- 
ness — comes out of a straining for what is artificial 
and high-flown, (iii) Parenthyrsus, i. e. passion out of 

Sect. 4. (iv) Frigidity, a. straining after novelty. 
Instances quoted out of Timaeus ; but see Caecilius for 
others. Plato and Xenophon are not wholly free. 

Sect. 5. All these faults come out of a craze for 
novelty, misdirected. 

Sect. 6. Can we find a rule for avoiding them ? 
Yes, if we can frame a complete working definition of 
' Sublimity.' 

Analysts of Contents xxiH 

Sect. 7. Test. If the thought does not bear 
repetition, i. e. if when repeated it does not raise the 
thoughts upwards, but itself falls more flat on the ear 
each time, it is no true Sublime. The verdict of all 
men through all ages is final. 

Sect. 8. Five sources of the Sublime (power of 
speech being presupposed) : viz. A. Natural, (i) grasp of 
great thoughts, (ii) passion ; B. Artificial, (iii) 'Figures,' 
whetherof thought or of language; (iv) diction; (v) com- 
position. (Caecilius gives an incomplete list, omitting 
passion, which is not co-extensive with sublimity, but 
is its powerfid ally.) 

\A gap of \% pages^ 

Sect. 9. (i) Great thoughts. ' Sublimity rings from 
a great soul.' The Sublimity of Silence — The Silence 
of Ajax in the Lower World {Odyssey xi). Homeric 
instance — The Battle of the Gods is sublime, but 
lowers gods to men. The pure divine in Homer. 
Illustration from Genesis. The human sublime, in 
Homer : the Prayer of Ajax for light. (Digression 
on the Odyssey, the work of Homer's old age. His 
genius compared to the setting sun, or the ebbing 
Ocean, but always the genius of Homer. Hence the 
' Marchen,' the story telling and character sketches.) 

Sect. 10. Rule for the application of great thoughts — 
select the most essential, and combine them into 
a whole, omitting secondary detail. So Sappho por- 
trays the lover. Homer a storm, Archilochus a ship- 
wreck, Demosthenes the arrival of the news of Elateia. 
Build with squared blocks, no rubble between them. 

Sects, ii and 12. 'Amplification,' the enhancing 
a thought in successive stages of the treatment, is use- 
ful, but, unless helped by sublimity, is merely mechanical, 
working by mass, not by elevation. Exceptions, when 

xxiv AnalyAs of Contents 

the object is to excite pity or depreciation. To the 
sublime, quantity is irrelevant. 

[Gap of 6 pages.^ 

[Plato and Demosthenes compared : Plato often 
affects us by quantity, Demosthenes by intensity.] 
Cicero and Demosthenes compared in a somewhat 
similar sense. 

Sect. 13. The real greatness of Plato illustrated 
(from RepubUc ix). Plato points us the road to great- 
ness, viz. the imitation of great predecessors. Plato 
steeped himself in Homer : he entered the lists against 

Sect. 14. We too should think how Homer, Plato, 
or Demosthenes would have expressed this or that 
thought : how they would have endured this or that 
expression of ours. Nay, how will all future ages 
endure those expressions. A great issue, but it is- 
cowardice to shrink. 

Sect. 15. Imagination and Images defined. Their 
use in oratory and in poetry distinct. Employment by 
Euripides, Aeschylus, Sophocles. Misused in modern 
oratory — the right use illustrated from Demosthenes 
and Hyperides. 

Sect. 16. [The second source of Sublimity — Passion 
— is not treated here ; see above, Sect, iii, and the last 
words of the Treatise.] (iii) The Figures. Only a few 
can be mentioned. Adjuration, illustrated from the 
De Corona of Demosthenes, where the circumstances 
make the oath sublime (contrast its bare use by the 
Comic Poet Eupolis). 

Sect, i 7. The Author quotes from himself a con- 
clusion that the Figures help Sublimity, but Sublimity 
and Passion are essential to the Figures, which other- 
wise are so many tricks. The oath by ' the dead of 

Analyns of Contents xxv 

Marathon ' would be but an artifice, if the artifice did 
not pass in the fierce light of the speaker's feeling. 

Sect. i8. The Figures continued. Question and 
Answer. Instance from Herodotus. 
[A gap of 4 pages."] 

Sect. 19. Asyndeton (i.e. omission of connecting 

Sect. 20. Combination of Asyndeton with other 
figures often effective. Instance from the Midias of 

Sect. 21. Introduce the missing conjunctions in 
such instances of Asyndeton, and the passage is spoiled. 

Sect. 22. Hyperbata (inversion of order) give the 
effect of reality and passion. Thucydides, Demosthenes. 

Sect. 23. Polyptota — interchange of case, &c. — 
Plural for singular. 

Sect. 24. Singular for plural. 

Sect. 25. Present for past. 

Sect. 26. Change of person — To the Second. 
Instance from Herodotus. 

Sect. 27. To the First. Instances from Homer 
and Hecataeus. 

Sect. 28. Periphrasis enriches style. Instances 
from Xenophon, Thucydides, Herodotus. 

Sect. 29. Periphrasis requires more discretion than 
any other Figure. 

Sect. 30. Choice of words, a potent factor in ex- 

[A gap of 12 pages.] 

Sect. 31. The author is challenging certain judge- 
ments of Caecilius upon (i) homeliness of phrase, which 
may be justified by its vigour; (ii) number of metaphors: 
as to this, the practice of Demosthenes is the standard, 

xxvi Analysis of Contents 

and the intensity of the passion the justification. 
(Aristotle and Theophrastus rightly commend the use 
of qualifying words.) Metaphors are also effective in 
laboured description. Instances from Xenophon and 
Plato (Timaeuj). Plato's excess in Metaphor is a 
fault, and Caecilius therefore prefers the faultless Lysias, 
but wrongly. 

Sect. 33. We must argue this point out. Which 
are we to prefer — greatness with faults, or faultlessness 
which stops there ? And again — the most claims to 
excellence, or the greatest ? I can have no doubt. 
Remember that (i) Genius has a special risk of falling ; 
(ii) Men mark failures and often omit to mark greatness. 
To be Homer or ApoUonius ? Bacchylides or Pindar ? 
Ion or Sophocles ? 

Sect. 34. Hyperides or Demosthenes ? The two 
Orators are elaborately compared. Demosthenes makes 
up for the powers he lacks by the terrible intensity of 
those which he has. 

Sect. 35. Plato or Lysias (to return to them) ? 
But Lysias has fewer merits than Plato, and worse 
faults. Nature herself has made Man with aspirations 
and affinities towards greatness. He admires the 
stupendous things in Nature — rivers, ocean, volcanoes — 
not things useful and ordinary. 

Sect. 36. Thus it is sublimity, not faultlessness, 
which brings Man near to the divine : Homer, Demo- 
sthenes, Plato have their failures, but these are as 
nothing when set against their greatness — therefore 
they are the immortals. Objection. — A faulty statue is 
not redeemed by its size. Ans'wer. — In Art correctness 
is the first thing, in Nature greatness. But language is 
a natural gift. 

Sect. 37. Similes, &c. 

\A gap of 6 pagesl\ 

Analysts of Contents xxvii 

Sect. 38. Hyperbole in excess becomes ridiculous. 
When rightly used it should be unnoticed that it is 
hyperbole : and this will be so when there is passion to 
support it. So comic exaggeration is supported by 
being ludicrous (for laughter is a passion, but one which 
goes with pleasure, not pain). 

Sect. 39. Arrangement of words (Composition): 
the fifth and last constituent of Sublimity (see sect. 8). 
A great factor not only of persuasion but also of 
passion : as great as music but not as enthralling. 
This illustrated from a famous passage of Demosthenes. 

Sect. 40. A sentence or a period is an organic 
structure : words and phrases contribute to a whole, 
which is greater than their mere sum. Writers of 
limited ability may touch greatness by rhythm and 

Sects. 41-3. Causes of sinking in style, broken 
and jingling rhythm, scrappy phrases (like rubble in 
masonry), condensation or difiuseness in excess, vulgar 
idioms and words (instance from Theopompus) — all 
the opposites of what we have found to be factors of 

Sect. 44. The question has been raised : Why have 
we many clever men now, but no great men ? Is the 
reason political — that the stimulus given by democracy 
is now wanting, and that we are cramped and checked by 
despotism ? The answer : — (i) Men always think their 
own times the worst, (ii) It is not the peace of the 
world which levels us down, but our own habits ; our 
love of getting, and of spending on our pleasures, both 
deadly evils, and causes of others and worse — corruption, 
will-hunting, and such like. Being what we are, 
perhaps we are better in servitude than if our vices had 
free vent. Better pass to the next subject — the passions. 



Introduction v 

Analysis of Contents .... xxii 

Concerning Sublimity . . . . i 

Appendix I. Specimen Passages translated 
from Greek Writers of the Roman 
Empire on Literary Criticism . . 83 

Appendix II. The Treatise on Sublimity 

AND Latin Critics . . . .105 

Appendix III. Passages translated from 
Bishop Lowth's Oxford Lectures on 
Hebrew Poetry 114 

Appendix IV. Additional Note on Para- 
phones 126 

Index of Proper Names occurring in the 

Text 127 


THE treatise written by Caecilius 'concerning 
Sublimity ' appeared to us, as you will remember, 
dear Postumius Terentianus, when we looked into it 
together, to fall below the level of the general subject, 
failing especially in grasp of vital points ; and to give 
his readers but little of that assistance which should be 
the first aim of every writer. In any technical treatise 
two, points are essential ; the first, that the writer 
should show what the thing proposed for inquiry is ; 
the second, but in effect the more important, that he 
should tell us by what specific methods that thing may 
be made our own. Now Caecilius endeavours to show 
us by a vast number of instances what the sublune is, 
as though we did not know ; the process by which we 
may raise our natural powers to a required advance in 
scale he unaccountably passed over as unnecessary. 
So far as he is concerned, perhaps we ought to praise 
the man for his ingenuity and pains, not to blame him 
for the omissions. Since, however, you lay your com- 
mands upon me, that I should take up the subject in 
my turn, and without fail put something on paper about 
Sublimity as a favour to yourself, give me your 
company ; let us see whether there is anything in the 
views which I have formed really serviceable to men in 


2 A "Treatise Sect. I 

public life. You, comrade, will help me by passing 
judgement, with perfect frankness, upon all particulars ; 
you can and you ought. . It was well answered by one ' 
who wished to show wherein we resemble gods: 'in 
doing good,' said he, ' and in speaking truth.' 

Writing to you, my dear friend, with your perfect 
knowledge of all liberal study, I am almost relieved at 
the outset from the netessity of showing at any length 
that Sublimity is always an eminence and excellence in 
language ; and that from this, and this alone, the 
greatest poets and writers of prose have attained the 
first place and have clothed their fame with immortality. 
For it is not to persuasion ' but to ecstasy that passages 
of extraordinary genius carry the hearer : now the 
marvellous, jvith its power to amaze, is always and 
necessarily stronger than that which seeks to persuade 
and to please : to be~4)eisuaded rests usually with 
ourselves, genius brings force sovereign and irresistible 
to bear"*upon every hearer, and takes its stand high 
above him. Again, skill in invention and power of 
orderly arrangement are not seen from one passage nor 
from two, but emerge with effort out of the whole 
context; Sublimity, we know, brought out at the 
happy moment, parts all the matter this way and that, 

' ' Pythagoras used to say that the two fairest gifts of gods to 
men were to speak truth and to do good, and would add that each 
of the two resembles the works of gods.' — Aelian, vii. 1 1, 59. A 
similar remark is attributed to Demosthenes. 

' Rhetoric is defined by Aristotle as ' a faculty of discovering all 
the possible means of persua$ion in any subject.' Rhei. i. c. i, 
Tr. Welldon. 

Sect. I Concerning Sublimity 3 

and like a lightning flash, reveals, at a stroke and in its 
entirety, the power of the orator *. These and suchlike 
considerations I think, my dear Terentianus, that 
your own experience might supply. 


WE, however, must at once raise this fiirther 
question ; is there any art of sublimity or of 
its opposite ? ^ For some go so far as to think all who 
would-bring,_such terms under technical rules to be 
entirely mistaken. ' Genius,' says one, ' is inbred, not 
taught ; there is one art for the things of genius, 
to be bom with them.' All natural effects are spoilt, 
they think, by technical rules, and become miserable 
skeletons. I assert that the reverse will prove true on 
examination, if we consider that Nature, a law to 

^ ' The Sublime impresses the mind at once with one great 
idea ; it is a single blow ; the Elegant, indeed, may be produced 
by repetition, by an accumulation of many circumstances.' — Sir J. 
Reynolds, Fourth Discourse. 

' If these words (literally ' of height or of depth *) are rightly 
translated above. Pope's ' Art of sinking ' is also right, though he 
was taken to task by scholars for the phrase. It was probably 
suggested to him by a friend, perhaps Arbuthnot ; since Boileau, in 
his translation, the only one, apparently, known to Pope, omits the 
second noun. The alternative is to render 'of sublimity, or 
(which is the same thing) of profundity.' But the idea in the 
context seems to be that of rising or sinking at will to a given 
point in the scale : the phrase would naturally come from an 
opponent who derided the existence of such an art. Sections XL- 
XLII, at the end of the Treatise, deal with the question how style 
may be lowered. 

B 2 

4 A treatise Sect. II 

herself as she mostly is in all that is passionate and 
lofty, yet is no creatAe of random unpiilse delighting in 
mere absence of method ; that she is indeed herself 
the first and originating principle which underlies all 
things, yet rules of degree, of fitting occasion, of 
unerring practice, and of application can be determined 
by method and are its contribution ; in ,a sense all 
greatness is exposed to a danger of its own, if left to 
itself without science to control, ' unsteadied, un- 
ballasted',' abandoned to mere velocity and unin- 
structed venture; greatness needs the spur often, it 
also needs the bit *. What Demosthenes shows to be 
true of the common life of men — that of all good things 
the greatest is good fortune, but a s econd , not inferior 
to the first, is good counse^_and that where the latter 
is wanting the former is at once cancelled' — we may 
properly apply to literature ;- here Nature fills the place 
of good fortune, Art of good counsel. Also, and 
this is most important, it is only ^fromj^rt -that. jye 
can learn the very fact that certain efifects in literature 
rest on Nature and on her alone *. If, as I said, the 

' The latter of the two adjectives is applied by Plato i^Thtaet. 
p. 144 A) to boats, which word possibly stood in the text here. 

' Words said to have been used by Plato about Xenocrates and 
Aristotle, and by Aristotle himself about two pupils; also by 
Isocrates, as Cicero twice tells us (Brutut, 305 and Letters to 
Attieus, 6, i) about Theopompus (see p. 55) and Ephorus. 

' Demosthenes, Aristocr. 113. 

' Cicero, in the Brutus (181, &c.), discusses the question 
whether the opinion of the general public or of the expert upon 
the merits of an orator is the more important. The answer is 

Sect. II Concerning 

critic who finds fault with earnest students, would take 
all these things into his account, he would in my opinion 
no longer deem inquiry upon the subjects before us 
to be unnecessary or unfruitful. 

[Here the equivalent of about six pages of this translation 
has been lost^ 


Stay they the furnace ! quench the far-flung blaze ! 
For if I spy one crouching habitant, 
I'll twist a lock, one lock of storm-bome flame, 
And fire the roof, and char the halls to ash : 
Not yet, not now my noble strain is raised '. 

ALL this is tragic no longer, but burlesque of 
£\, tragic ; ' locks,' ' to vomit up to heaven,' 'Boreas 
turned flute player,' and the rest. It is turbid in ex- 
pression, and confused in imagery, not forcible ; and if 
you examine each detail in clear light, you see a gradual 
sinking from the terrible to the contemptible. Now 
when in tragedy, which by_its nature is pompous and 
admits bombast, tasteless rant is found to be unpardon- 
able", I should be slow to allow that it could be In 

that on the question of effectiveness in speaking the verdict of 
the public is final, that of the specialist is still required to determine 
the causes of effectiveness or failure, also to pronounce whether 
the orator is absolutely excellent, or only appears to be so in the 
absence of his betters. 

1 From the lost Oreithyia of Aeschylus (p. 381, Nauck). 

' ' What can be so proper for Tragedy as a set.of big-sounding 

tf A Treatise Sect. HI 

^lace in true history. Thus we laugh at Gorgias ' of 
Leontini for writing ' Xerxes the Zeus of the Persians ' 
and ' vultures, those living tombs,' and at some passages 
in Callisthenes ' as being stilted, not sublime, and even 
more at some in Cleitarchus ° ; he is a mere fantastic, 
he ' puffs,' to apply the words of Sophocles, ' on puny pipes, 
hut with no mellowing gag *.' So with Amphicrates, 
Hegesias, and Matris ' ; they often appear to themselves 
to be possessed, really they are no inspired revellers but 
children at play. We may take it that turgidity is of all 
;'* faults perhaps the most difficult to avoid. ~It is "a fact of 
Nature tKalTmen'wHoraiiTi^at grandeur, in avoiding 
the reproach of being weak and dry, are, we know not 
how, borne off into turgidity, caught by the adage : — 
'To lapse from~greatness were a generous fault'.' As 

words, so contrived together as to carry no meaning? which 
I shall one day or other prove to be the Sublime of Longinus.' 

Fielding, Introduction to Tom Thumb. 

' A Sicilian teacher of rhetoric (about B.C. 480-3 J^o), a speaker 
in the dialogue of Plato which bears his name. 

' Philosopher, historian, and rhetorician, a pupil of Aristotle 
(died about B.C. 328). 

' Cleitarchus, Historian of Alexander the Great. 

* Sophocles bad written ' he fa& no longer on puny pipes, but 
irith fierce bellows and no mouthpiece (to modify the sound).' 
The lines, in their original form, are quoted by Cicero of 
Pompey (ad Alt. ii. 16, 2). 

' Amphicrates : an Athenian rhetorician and sophist, who died 
at the Court of Tigranes, about B.C. 70. Hegesias: a rhetorician, 
native of Magnesia, probably of the third century B. c, who wrote 
on Alexander the Great. Matris of Thebes: author of an 
encomium on Hercules ; mentioned by Diodotus Siculus, and 
therefore not later than the Augustan period. 

' A proverb,' doubtless familiar in a metrical form. Com- 

Sect. Ill Concerning Sublimity 7 

in bodies, so in writings, all swellings which are hollow 
and unreal are bad, and very possibly work round to the 
opposite condition, for ' nothing,' they say, ' so dry as a 
man with dropsy.' 

While tumidity thus tends to overshoot the sublime, 
puerility is the direct opposite of all that is great; it is 
in every sense low and small spirited, and essentially a 
most ignoble fault. What then is puerility ? Clearly 
it is a pedantic conceit, which overdoes itself and 
becomes frigid at the last. ' Authors glide into this when 
they make for what is unusual, artificial', above all, agreeable, 
and so run on the reefs of nonsense and aifectation. By 
the side of these is a third kind of vice, found in passages 
of strong feeling, and called by Theodoras ' ' Parenthyrsus. ' 
This is pa^on out of £lace and unmeaning,, where there 
is no call for passion, or unrestrained where restraint is 
needed. Men are carried aside, as if under strong drink, 
into expressions of feeling which have nothing to do with 
the subject, but are personal to themselves and academic- 
then they play clumsy antics before an audience which 
has never been moved; it cannot be otherwise, when the 
speakers are in an ecstasy, and the hearers are not. But 
we reserve room to speak of the passions elsewhere. 

pare Ovid's fine lines on the fall of Phaethon {Mel. ii, 


His limbs, yet reeking from that lightning flame, 
The kindly nymphs entomb, and grave his name : 
' Phaethon lies here, who grasped the steeds of Day, 
Then greatly fell, yet from a great essay I ' 

^ Of Gadaia, or Rhodes : a rhetorician, and instructor of the 
Emperor Tiberius (Suetonius, 7V6. 57). 

8 A Treatise Sect, iv 


OF the second fault which we mentioned, frigidity, 
Timaeus* is full; an able author in other respects, 
and not always wanting in greatness of style ; learned, 
acute, but extremely critical of the faults of others, 
while insensible to his own; often sinking into mere 
childishness from an incessant desire to start new notions. 
I will set down one or two instances only from this 
author, since Caecilius has been before me with most of 
them. Praising Alexander the Great, he writes: 'who 
annexed all Asia in fewer years than Isocrates ' took to 
writehis/'<wjf^rifBjin support of waragainstthePersians.' 
Truly a wonderfiil comparison between the Macedonian 
and the Sophist : yes, Timaeus, clearly the Lacedae- 
monians were far out-matched by Isocrates in valour, for 
they took Messene in thirty years, he composed his 
Panegyrkus in ten ! Then how he turns upon the 
Athenians captured in Sicily: 'Because they committed 
imjnety against Hermes, and defaced his images, they 
suffered punishment for it, largely on account of one 
man, a descendant, on the father's side, of the injured 
god, Hermocrates, son of Hermon.' This makes me 
wonder, dear Terentianus, that he does not also write of 
the tyrant Dionysius : ' He had shown impiety towards 

* A Sicilian historian (about B.C. 353-256), severely criticized 
by Polybius. 

' A great, but somewhat tedious, Athenian orator (B. c. 436- 
338), ' the old man eloquent ' of Milton's sonnet. See p. 44. The 
Pantgyrieus was originally composed for the Olympic festival 
of 380. 

Sect. IV Concerning Sublimity 9 

Zeus ' and Heracles ; therefore he was deprived of his 
kingdom hy Dion and Heraclides.' What need to speak 
of Timaeus, when those heroes Xenopbon and Plato, 
although they were of Socrates' own school, sometimes 
forgot themselves in such paltry attempts to. please. Thus 
Xenophon writes in the Constitution of the Lacedaemonians: 
' I mean to say that you can no more hear their voices 
than if they were made of stone, no more draw their 
eyes aside than if they were made of brass ; you might 
think them more modest than the maiden-pupils in their 
eyes.' It was worthy of Amphicrates', not of Xenophon, 
to call the pupils in our eyes ' modest maidens ' : but 
what a notion, to believe that the eyes of a whole row 
were modest, whereas they say that immodesty in parti- 
cular persons is expressed by nothing so much as by the 
eyes. Addressing a forward person, 'Wine laden, dog- 
eyed! 'says Homer''- Timaeus, however, as if clutching 
at stolen goods, has not left to Xenophon even this point 
of frigidity. He says, speaking of Agathocles, that he 
even carried off his cousin, who had been given in 
marriage to another man, from the solemnity of Unveiling ; 
' Now who would have done this, who had maidens, 
not harlots, in his eyes ? * Nay, Plato, the divine, as at 

' Zeus gives in the genitive Dios, &c. 

' Athenian soldier and historian (about B.C. 444-354). In our 
texts of the work quoted the words run : ' than maidens in their 
chambers' instead of 'than maidens in the eyes.' Our Author is 
often loose in his quotations, but this is a strange variation. The 
same play on the Greek word for ' pupils ' occurs in Plutarch (De 
Yit. Pud. i. 538 E). 

' //. i. 225. 

10 A Treatise Sects. IV, V 

other times he is, wishing to mention tablets, says : 
' they will write and store in the temples memorials of 
cypress wood,' and again ' concerning walls, O Megillus, 
I would take the Spartan view, to allow our walls to 
sleep on the ground where they lie, and not be raised 
again.' ' And Herodotus is hardly clear of this fault, 
when he calls beautiful women ' pains to the eyes ' '^ ; 
though he has some excuse, for the speakers in Herodotus 
are barbarians and in drink : still, not even through the 
mouths of such characters is it well, out jof sheer petti- 
ness, to cut a^luiH^' figure before all time. 


A LL these undignified faults spring up in literature 
Jr\. from a single cause, the craving for intellectual 
novelties, on which, above all else, our own generation 
goes wild. It would almost be true to say that the 
sources of all the good in us are also the sources of all 
the bad. Thus beauties of expression, and all which is 
sublime, I will add, all which is agreeable, contribute to 
success in our writing ; and yet every one of these 
becomes a principle and a foundation, as of success, so 
of its opposite. Much the same is to be said of changes 
of construction, hyperboles, plurals for singulars ; we 
will show in the sequel the danger which seems to 
attend each. Therefore it is necessary at once to raise 
the question directly, and to show how it is possible 
for us to escape the vices thus intimately mingled.with 
the sublime. ' 

' Plato, ian/s, vi. p. 778 D. » Herodotus, v. 18. 

Sects. VI, VII Concerning Sublimity 1 1 


IT is possible, my friend, to do this, if we could 
firs^ of all arrive at a clear and discriminating 
knowledge of what true sublimity is. Yet this is hard 
to grasp : judgement of style is the last and ripest fruit 
of much experience. Still, if I am to speak in the 
language of precept, it is perhaps not impossible, from 
some such remarks as follow, to attain to a right 
decision upon the matter. 


WE must, dear friend, know this truth. As 
in our ordinary life nothing is great which 
it is a mark of greatness to despise ; as fortunes, 
ofRces, honour^ kingdoms, and such like, things 
which are praised so pompously from without, could 
never appear, at least to a sensible man, to be sur- 
passing1^_good, since actual contempt for them is a 
good of no mean kind (certainly men admire, more 
than those who have them, those who might have them, 
but in greatness of soul let them pass); even so it is 
with all that is elevated in poetry and prose writings ; 
we have to ask whether it may be that they have that 
image of greatness to which so much careless praise is 
attached, but on a close scrutiny would be found vain 
and hollow, things which it is nobler to despise than 
to admire. For it is a fact of Nature„that thesoul is 

12 A Treatise Sect. VII 

raised by true sublimity, it gains a proud step upwards, 
it is filled with joy and exultation, as though itself liad 
produced what it hears. Whenever therefore anything 
is heard frequently by a man of sense and literary 
experience, but does not dispose his mind to high 
thoughts, nor leave in it material for fresh reflection, 
beyond what is actually said; while it sinks, if you look 
carefiilly at the whole context, and d\snndles away, this 
can never be true sublimity, being preserved so long 
only as it is heard. That is really great, which pves 
much food for fresh reflection ; which If is Tiard, nay 
impossible, to resist; of which thejnwmory js_strong 
and indelible. You may take it that those are beautiful 
ancTgenuine effects of sublimity which please always, 
and please all. For when men of different habits, 
lives, ambitions, ages, all take one and the same view 
about the same writings', the verdict and pronouncement 
of .juch dissimilar individuals give a powerful assurance, 
beyond all gainsaying, in favour of that winch they 


Now there are five different sources, so to call 
them, of lofty "style, which are the most pro- 
ductive ; power o f expression being presupposed as a 
foundation common to all five types, and inseparable 

' The words are doubtful : the rendering given above follows 
, Bishop Pearce, a contributor to the Spectator, and a scholarly and 
accomplished editor and translator of this treatise. Probably the 
order of the Greek words has been disarranged. 

Sect. VIII Concerning Sublimity 13^ 

from any. First and most potent is the faculty of'"- 
grasping grea t con ceptions^ as I have defined it in my 
worlc on Xenophon, Second comes p assion, strong 
4nd_impetuous. These two constituents of sublimity--, 
are in most cases native-bom,, those wh ich now follow 
come through _art ; the proper handling of figures, 
which again seem to fall under two heads, figures of 
thought, and figures of diction ; then noble phraseology, . 
with itssiibdivisions, choice of words, and use of tropes ' 
and of elaboration ; and fifthly, that cause of greatness 
which includes in itself all that preceded it, dignified 
and spirited composition. Let us now look together 
at what is included under each of these heads, premis- 
ing that Caecilius has passed over some of the five, 
for instance, passion. If he did so under the idea 
that sublimity and feeling are one and the same thing, 
coexistent and of common origin, he is entirely wrong. 
For some passions may be found which are distinct 
from sublimity and are humble, as those of pity, grief, 
fear; and again, in many cases, there is sublimity 
without passion ; take, besides countless other instances, 
the poet's own venturesome lines on the Aloadae : 

Upon Olympus Ossa, leafy Pelion 

On Ossa would they pile, a stair to heaven ; ' 

and the yet grander words which follow : 

Now had they worked their will. 

In the Orators, again, speeches of panegyric, pomp, 

» Od. xi. 315 and 317. 

14 A Treatise Sect. VIII 

display, exhibit oh every hand majesty and the sublime, 
but commonly lack passion : hence Orators of much 
passion succeed least in panegyric, and again the pane- 
gyrists are not strong in passion *. Or if, on the other 
Han d," C a eciltgydia" not ISink that passion ever con- 
tributes to sublimity, and, therefore, held it undeserving 
of mention, he is quite in error. I shotdd feel con- 
fidence in maintaining that npdiin g reaches great 
eloquence so surely as genuine passion in the nght 
placej_jt breathes the vehemence of frenzy and divine 
possession, and makes the very words inspired. 


A FTER all, however, the first element, great natural 
^~V genius, covers far more ground than the others : 
therefore, as to this also, even if it be a gift jasJier 
than a thing acquired, yet so far as is possible we must 
nurture our souls to all that is great, and make them, 
as it were, teem with noble endowment. How^ 
you will ask. I have myself written in another place 
to this effect: — 'Sublimity is the note which rings 
from a great mind'.' Thus it is that, without any 
utterance, a notion, unclothed and unsupported, often 
moves our wonder, because the very thought is great ,: 
the silence of Ajax in the book of the Lower World 

* See Spectator, no. 389 (Addison). 

' 'Eloquence is the ring of a great soul' (Dr. G. H. Kendall, 
Classical Rivieui, vol. xiii, p. 40a). 

Sect. IX Concerning Sublimity i f 

is great, and more sublime than any words*. First, 
then, it is quite necessary to presuppose the principle 
from which this springs : the true Orator must have no 
low ungenerous spirit, for it is not possible that they 
who think small thoughts, fit for slaves, and practise 
them in all their daily life, should put out anything to 
deserve wonder and immortality. Grea t, word s issue, 
and it cannot be otherwise, from those whose thoughts 
are weighty. So it is on the lips of men of the highest 
spirit that words of rare greatness are found. Take 
the answer of Alexander to Parmeriio, who had said 
' I were content . . . ' ' 

\Here about eighteen paget have been /oj/.] 

. . . the distance from earth to heaven, 
a measure one may call it of the stature as well of 

» Od. xi. 543. 

But never Aias, child of Telamon 

Came near me, but with gloomy brows and bent 

Stood far aloof, in sternness eminent, 

Eating his heart for that old victory ' 

Against him given by clear arbitrament, 

Concerning brave Achilleus' arms. 

The scholiast on Homer observes : ' His silence is clearly a finer 
thing than the speeches in the tragic poets ' ; a principle recognized 
by Aeschylus, insomuch that he was sometimes rallied upon his 
habit of keeping his characters silent, as though it had passed into 
a mannerism (Aristophanes, Frogs, 911). 

' 'The story runs that Parmenio said to Alexander that, had 
he been Alexander, he would have been content to stop the war 
on those terms, and run no further risks; and that Alexander 
answered that he too, had he been Parmenio, would have done 
the same.' Arrian, ii. 25, 2. 

1 6 ^Treatise Sect. IX 

Homer as of Strife '. Unlike this is the passage of 
Hesiod about Gloom (if The Shield is really to be 
assigned to Hesiod), ' From out her nostrils rheum 
in streams was poured ' ' : he has made the picture 
hatefiil, not terrible. But how does Homer make 
great all that belongs to gods ? 

Far as the region of blank air in sight 
Of one who sitting on some beacon height 
Views the long wine-dark barrens of the deep, 
Such space the horses of the realm of light 
Urged by the gods, as on they strain and sweep, 
While their hoofs thunder aloft, bound over at one leap'- 

He measures their leap by the interval of the boundaries 
of the world. Who might not justly exclaim, when 
he marked this extravagance in greatness, that, if the 
horses of the gods make two leaps, leap after leap, they 
will no longer find room within the world. Passing 
great too are the appearances in the Battle of the 
Gods: — 

Heaven sent its clarion forth : Olympus too : * 

Trembled too Hades in his gloomy reign. 
And leapt up with a scream, lest o'er his head 

' //. iv. 44a (a description of Strife) 

' small of stature, a low head 
At first she rears, but soon with loiiier claim, 
Her forehead in the sky, the earth doth tread.' 

' The Shield of Hercules, 267: the authorship of the poem 
was much disputed in antiquity. Hesiod may probably be placed 
in the eighth century b. c, his poetry belongs to a later date than 
any substantial part of Homer. 

' //. V. 770. '//. zxi. 388, perhaps mixed up with v, 75a 

Sect. IX Concerning Sublimity 1 7 

Poseidon cleave tJie solid earth in twain, 
And open the pale kingdom of the dead 
Horrible, foul widi blight, which e'en Immortals dread '. 

You see, comrade, how, when earth is torn up from 
its foundations, and Tartarus itself laid bare, and the 
Universe suffers overthrow and dissolution, all things 
at once, heaven and hell, things mortal and immortd, 
mingle in the war and the peril of that fight. Yet all 
this is terrible indeed, though, unless taken as allegory, 
thoroughly impious and out of proportion. For when 
Homer presents to us woundings of the gods, their 
factions, revenges, tears, bonds, sufferings, all massed 
together, it seems to me that, as he has done his 
uttermost to make the men of the Trojan war gods, so 
he has made the gods men. Only for us, when we 
are miserable, a harbour from our ills is reserved in 
death; the gods, as he draws them, are everlasting, 
not in their nature, but in their unhappiness. Far 
better than the ' Battle of the Gods ' are the passages 
which show us divinity as something undefiled and 
truly great, with no admixture; for instance, to take 
a passage which has been worked out by many before 
us, the lines on Poseidon : 

Tall mountains and wild woods, from height to 

The city and the vessels by the main . . . 
Rocked to the ii^mortal feet that, hurrying, bare 
Poseidon in his wrath . . . 
. . . the light wheels along the sea-plain rolled ; 

' //. XX. 5i-s. 

LONG. TR. g 

1 8 A Treatise Sect. IX 

From cave and lair the creatures of the deep 
Flocked to sport round him, and the crystal heap 
Of waters in wild joy disparting know 
Their lord, and as the fleet pair onward sweep ' . . . 

Thus too the lawgiver of the Jews, no common man '•', 
when he had duly conceived the power of the Deity, 
showed it forth as duly. At the very beginning of 
his Laws, ' God said,' he writes — What ? ' Let there 
be light, and there was light, let there be earth, and 
there was earth.' Perhaps I shall not seem wearisome, 
comrade, if I quote to you one other passage from the 
poet, this time on a human theme, that you may learn 
how he accustoms his readers to enter with him into 
majesties which are more than human. Gloom and 
impenetrable night suddenly cover the battle of the 
Greeks before him : then Ajax, in his helplessness. 

Zeus, sire, do thou the veil of darkness rend. 
And make clear daylight, that our eyes may see : 
Then in the light e'en slay us — '. 

* These lines are taken from //. xiii. 18-29, ^^'^ omissions, 
and with the exception of the second, which is read in zx. 60. 

' ' The best general that ever was — for such I really think 
Moses was.' — Letter of General Sir Charles Napier, 1844. With 
' conceived . . . showed forth,' words which cause some difficulty 
in the original, cf. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, v. 21. 'I 
desire future readers of these books to apply their thoughts to God, 
and to examine whether our legislator worthily apprehended His 
nature, and always assigned to Him actions becoming His power.' 
With regard to the passage generally, see Introduction. 

' II. xvii. 645. With this passage compare the remarks of 
Burke : — 'To make anything very terrible, obscurity seems in 

Sect. IX Concerning Sublimity 1 9 

Here is the very truth of the passion of Ajax:_he 
does not pray to live— such a petition were too _humble 
for ^e hero— but when in impracticable darkness he 
could _dispose_hK^ y^om tq_no good purpose, chafing 
that he stands idle for the battle, he_praj[S ^or light at 
the speediest, sure of findmg^ therein at the worst 
a burial worthy of his valour, even if Zeus be arrayed 
against him. Truly the spirit of Homer goes along 
with every struggle, in full and carrying gale ; he feels 
the very thing himself, he ' rages ; — 

Not fire in densest mountain glade, 

Nor spear-armed Ares e'er raged dreadfiiller : 

Foam started from his lips, ..." 

Yet he shows throughout the Qdj/ssey (for there are 
many reasons why we must look closely into passages 
from that poem also), that, when a g£ggt gepi]|}$ bggins to 
decline, the love of sto ry-teUi ng is a mark ofusold age. 
It is clear from many other indications that this work 
was ^he^secondl" but more particularly from the fact 
that he introduces throughout tlje Odyssey remnants of 
the~siifferings before Dium,~"as so many additional 
episodes of the Trojan war ; aye, and renders to its 
heroes fresh lamentations and words of pity, as though 

general to be necessary. When we know the full extent of any 
danger, when we can accustom our eyes to it, u great deal of the 
apprehension vanishes.' — On the Sublime and Beautiful, ii, 3. Buike 
quotes Milton's description of Death in the Second Book of Para- 
dise Lost, and observes ' In this description all is dark, uncertain, 
confnsed, terrible, and sublime to the last degree.' 
' /;. XV. 605. 

C 2 

20 A Treatise Sect. IX 

awarded in some far distant time. Yes, the Odyssey 
is nothing but an epilogue of the Iliad : — 

There the brave Aias and Achilleus lie ; 
Patroclus there, whose wisdom matched the gods on 
There too Antilochus my son. . . ' 

From the same cause, I think, writing the ITtad^ in the 
heyday of his spirit, he made the wfiole ^structiye 
draniatis.and_ combative^; that of the O^jjgy is in the 
main naiTOtivej^whkhLis.JbgLSpecid,.|ga]^54j£, So 
it IS that in the Odyssey one might liken Homer to 
a setting sun ; the intensity is gone, Jbut_jtherej«nains 
the greatness. Here the tone of those great lays of 
Ilium is no longer maintained — the passages on one 
level of sublimity with no sinking anywhere, the same 
stream of passion poured upon passion, the readiness of 
turn, the closeness to life, the throng of images all 
drawn from the truth: as when Ocean retires into 
himself, and is left lonely around his proper bounds, 
only the ebbings of his greatness are left to our view, 
and a wandering among the shallows of the fabulous 
and the incredible ". While I say this, I have not for- 
gotten the storms in the Odyssey, nor the story of the 
Cyclops ^, nor certain other passages ; I am describing 
an old age, but the old age of Homer, Still in all 

* Od. iii. 109. 

' The rich imagery of this passage must have been drawn from 
a knowledge of seas other than the almost tideless Mediterranean. 
Compare Tacitus' description of his wonder at the tides and tidal 
rivers of Britain in the Agricola (end of c, x), and see Introduction. 

3 CW.Bookix. 

Sect. IX Concerning Sublimity 2 1 

these, as they follow one another, fable prevails over 
action. I entered upon this digression, as I said, in 
order tp show howj^ry^ easily great_geniuSjWlien^,the 
PGBeisji^ji_iO«med..a§id£.J;ilJrifl^ there are 
the stories of the wine-ikin, of the companions turned 
by Circe to swine ' (whom ZoUus ° called ' porkers in 
tears'), of Zeus fed by doves like a young bird', of 
Ulysses ten days without food on the wreck*, there 
are the incredible details of the slaying of the Suitors °- 
What can we call these Jjut in very truth ' dreams of 
Zeus ' ? ' A second reason why the incidents of the 

* Od. X. 17, &c ; 229, &c. 

' A grammarian of uncertain date, probably of the fourth century 
B.C. He was a bitter and malignant critic, and earned the name 
of • Scourge of Homer.' 

' Od. xii. 62. * 03. xii, end. ° Od. xxii. 

' Aristotle claims for Homer that he 'shows how lies should be 
told ' ; in other words, that he so manages the irrational, a potent 
element in the marvellous (Poet. c. xxiv), that the reader accepts 
it, feeling that if such things happened at all they would happen 
as they are described, and content to ask no questions. Horace, 
a warm and also a very discriminating admirer of Homer, after 
noticing the modest opening of the Odyssey, goes on to speak of 
these marvels : — 

Not smoke from fire his object is to bring. 
But fire from smoke, a very different thing ; 
Yet has he dazzling miracles in store, 
Cyclops, and Laestrygon, and fifty more . . . 
And all this glamour, all this glorious dream. 
Truth blent with fiction in one motley scheme. 
He so contrives, that, when 'tis o'er, you see 
Beginning, middle, end alike agree.' 

A. P. 143, &c., Conington's translation. 
If we assume a single author for the Iliad and Odyssey, the 
conclusion that the Odyssey was the work of his old age is a very 
natural one. A familiar instance of the tendency of great writers 

2 2 A Treatise Sect. IX 

Odytsey also should be discussed is this ; that_ yo u 
may reco gnize ho w the decline of passion in great 
writers and poets passes away intojjhargff.^e^'-t^ rawin g : 
the sEetcHes of the life in the household of Ulysses 
much resemble a comedy ofxhatactSC- 


I WILL now ask you to consider with me whether 
we may possibly arrive at anything further, which 
has power to make our writings sublime. Sin ce with 
all things are associated certain elements, constituents 
which are eSBetSfiallyTnherennir the substance of 
eachy one factor of sublimity must necessarily be the 
power "of choosing the most vital of the included elements, _ 
^i of making these, by mutual superposition, form as 
it were a single body. On one side the hearer is attracted 

towards the mythical spirit in their advancing years may be found 
in Atme of Geierstein (1829), of which Lockhart writes : — 
'The various play of fancy in the combination of persons and 
events, and the airy liveliness of both imagery and diction, may 
well justify us in applying to the author what he beautifully says 
of his King Ren4 : — 

A mirthful man he was ; the snows of age 
Fell, but they did not chill him — Gaiety, 
Even in life closing, touch'd his teeming brain 
With such wild visions as the setting sun 
Raises in front of some hoar glacier. 
Painting the black ice with a thousand hues.' 

Life of Sir W. Scotl, vol. vii. 

On the relations of the Odyssey to the Iliad see the late 
Dr. D. B. Monro's Odyssey 13-24 (igot), Appendix, p. 289 foil., 
and, with special reference to this Treatise, p. 334 foil. 

Sect. X Concerning Sublimity 23 

bythe choice of ideas, on another by the accumulation of 
those wKch Ijave been chosenr~Thus Sappho, in "all 
cases, takes the emotions incident to the frenzy of love 
from the attendant symptoms and from actual truth. 
But wherein does she show her great excellence ? In her 
power of first selecting and then closely combining those 
which are conspicuous and intense : — 

Blest as the immortal gods is he 
The youth whose eyes may look on thee, 
Whose ears thy tongue's sweet melody 
May still devour. 

Thou smilest too ! — sweet smile, whose charm 
Has struck my soul with wild alarm. 
And, when I see thee, bids disarm 
Each vital power. 

Speechless I gaze : the flame within 
Runs swift o'er all my quivering skin ; 
My eyeballs swim ; with dizzy din 
My brain reels round ; 

And cold drops fall ; and tremblings frail 
Seize every limb ; and grassy pale 
I grow ; and then — together fail 
Both sight and sound '. 

Do you not marvel how she seeks to gather soul and 
body into one, hearing and tongue, eyes and complexion ; 

' This ode of Sappho, the great woman-poet of Lesbos (about 
600 B. c), written in the metre which bears her name, has only 
been preserved to us in this treatise. It has been partly translated 
by Catullus into Latin, in the same metre. The version in the 
text is by J. Herman Merivale (1833). For another ode by the 
same author, which has only reached us through the critic 
Dionysius, see Appendix. 

24' A Treatise Sect. X 

all dispersed and -strangers before : now, by a series of 
contradictions, she is cold at once and bums, is irrational, 
is sensible (for she is either in terror or at the point of 
death)^, so that it may not appear to be a single passion 
which is upon her, but an assemblage of passions ? All 
the symptoms are found severally in lovers ; to the choice 
of those which are conspicuous, and to their concentration 
into one, is due the pre-eminent merit here. So it is, 
I think, with the Poet and his storms; he picks out the 
grimmest of the attendant circumstances. The author 
of the AnmaspAa thinks these lines terrible : — 

Here too is mighty marvel for our thought : 
Mid seas men dwell, on water, far from land : 
Wretches they are, for sorry toil is theirs ; 
Eyes on the stars, heart on the deep they fix. 
Oft to the gods, I ween, their hands are raised. 
Their inward parts in ewl case upheaved '. 

Any one, I think, will see that there is more em- 
broidery than terror in it all. Now for Homer; take one 
instance out of many : — 

As when a wave swoln by the wild wind's blore ' 
Down from the clouds upon a ship doth light, 

^ The text of the original appears to be faulty here. 

' Aristeas, an early poet of Proconnesus, wrote an epic on the 
Arimaspi (a one-eyed people of .the far North, mentioned by 
Herodotus, who says, iv. 26, that their name was formed by the 
Greeks from two Scythian words, 'Arima,' one, and ' spous,' 
an eye). 

' blore, it e. blast. Ci. ' The west wind and the north join in 
a sudden blore,' Chapman, The word is approved by Johnion as 
an ' expressive ' one. 

Sect. X Concerning Sublimity 2 f 

And the whole hulk with scattering foam is white, 
And through the sails all tattered and forlorn 
Roars the fell blast : the seamen with affright 
Shake, out from death a hand-breadth they are borne '. 

Aratus has attempted to transfer this very notion : — 

Tiny the plank which thrusts grim death away '. 

Only the result is petty and smooth, not terrible. 
Moreover, he makes the danger limited, by the words ' the 
plank thrusts death away ' : and so it does ! Again 
our Poet does not limit the terror to one occurrence ; 
he gives us the picture of men meeting destruction con- 
Unuaily, wellnigh in every wave. Yet again, by forcing 
together prepositions naturally inconsistent, and com- 
pelling them to combine (I refer to the words ' out from 
death '), he has so strained the verse as to match the 
trouble which fell upon them ; has so pressed it together 
as to give the very presentment of that trouble ; has 
stamped, I had almost said, upon the language the form 
and features of the peril: 'out from death a hand- 
breadth they are borne.' Just so Archilochus' in describ- 
ing the shipwreck, and Demosthenes, when the news of 
Elateia comes: 'For it was evening,' he says*. They 

^ II. XV. 6*4. 

' Aratus, living about 270 B.C., the author of two Greek 
astronomical poems, one of which was translated by Cicero. The 
words quoted by St. Paul, Acts xvii. 28, occur in Aratus, and also in 
another poet. 

' Archilochus of Pares (about 800 B.C.), the reputed inventor of 
the iambic metre. Two extant fragments describe shipwreck. 

* The passage which follows {De Cor. 169) is perhaps the most 
famous in Demosthenes, and should be read in its context. 

26 A Treatise Sect. X 

chose the expressions of real eminence, looking only to 
merit (if one may use the word), took them out clean, 
and placed them one upon another, introducing between 
them nothing trivial, or undignified, or low. For such 
things mar the whole effect, much as, in building, 
massive, blocks, intended to cohere and hold together in 
one, are spoilt by stop-gaps and rubble '- 


CLOSELY connected with the excellencies which 
I have named is that called Amplification; in 
which, when the facts and issues admit of severaTTresh 
iieginnings and~fresh"iiaKIng-places, in periodic arrange- 
r mentj^reat phrases come rolling upon others which have 
gonebefore, in a^continuouslj^ascendingorderr Whether 
this be done by way of pilarging upon commonplace 
topics, or of exaggeration, or of intensifying facts or 
reasoning, or of handling deeds^one or suffering endured 

' The words are difficult, and in their details uncertain ; the 
rendering in the text is a paraphrase. With the general drift, the 
reader should compare chapters xzi, xl (end), xli (end). ' The 
walls of Messene, on the slopes of Mt. Ithome, are among the 
most perfect remains of Greek building in the Peloponnese, and are 
a beautiful example of Hellenic masonry during the best period. 
They are wholly built of neatly-dressed blocks, regularly hedded 
without mortar in horizontal courses.' — Smith's Diet. Ant., 'Art. 
Murus.' On the other hand, Vitruvius (ii. 8) recommends the 
use of small stones as better preserving the mortar and con- 
crete, which filled the interstices. A comparison between Greek 
masonry at its best and that of the Romans under the empire 
appears to bring out our author's point. 

Sect. XI Concerning Sublimity 27 

(for there are numberless varieties of amplification), the 
orator must in any case know that none of these can 
gosahl^stand^bj jt§|^ without a;;;perfect 
structure. The flnlj^exceptions_are_ where pity or 
depreciatio n^^e required ; in all other processes of 
amplification, take away the sublime, and you will take ■ 
soul out of body ; they are effective no longer, and 
become nerveless and hollow unless braced by passages 
of sublimity. But, for clearness' sake, I must shortly lay 
down wherein the difference lies between my present 
precepts, and what I said above (there I spoke of a 
sketch embracing the principal ideas and arranging them 
into one) ; and the broad difference between Amplification 
and Sublimity. 


I AM not satisfied with the definition given by the 
technical writers. Amplification is, they say,^ language 
which jnyestsjthe suBject^ltli greatness. Of course 
this definition may serve in common for sublimity, and 
passion, and tropes, "siSceTKeyTloo, invest theianguage 
with greatness of a particular kind. To me it seems 
that they differ from one another in this, that Sublimity 
lies in intensity. Amplification also in multitude ; conse- 
queri3ysuBrimity^ofteii,exists in a single idea, amplification 
necessarily implies quantity and abundance. ~Aihplifica- 
tion Js;;7-to define it in outline — an accumulation of all 
the partj andtOTJcsinherent in. a subject, strengthening 
the fabric ofAe^argument_by insistence ; and differs in 

2 8 A "Treatise Sect. XII 

this from rhetorical proof that the latter seeks to demon- 
strate the point required. . . . 

\Here about six pages have been lostJ\ 

In richest abundance, like a very sea, Plato often 
pours into an open expanse of grandeur. Hence it is, 
I think, that, if we look to style, the Orator, appealing 
more strongly to passions, has a large element of fire 
and of spirit aglow ; Plato, calm in his stately and 
dignified magnificence, I will not say, is cold, but is 
not so intense '. It is on these and no other points, 
as it seems to me, dear Terentianus (that is, if we as 
Greeks are allowed to form an opinion), that Cicero 
and Demosthenes differ in _ their grand^ passages. 
Demosthenes' strength is in sheer height of sublimity, 
that of Cicero in ^^ diffiisifijj, , Our countryman, 
because he bums and ravages all in his violence, swift, 
strong, terrible, may be compared to a lightning fl^h 
or a thunderbolt. Cicero, like a spreading conflagration,, 
ranges and rolls over the whole field ; the fire which 
burns is within him, plentiful and constant, distributed 
at his will now in one part, now in another, and fed 
with fuel in relays. These. are points on which you 
can best judge : certainly .the moment for the sublimity 

' If a brilliint, but unsupported, conjecture of Bentley's should 
be right here, the passage would run . — * I will not say, is cold, 
but has not the same lightning flashes,' with which compare c.xxxiv 
(end). The conjecture, which involves a change or interchange of 
several vowels in the Greek word, has been approved by excellent 
scholars, but the point here is the concentration of Demosthenes, 
not, as on p. 34, his brilliance. 

Sect. XII Concerning Sublimity 29 

and tension of Demosthenes is where accumulated 
invective and strong passion are in play, and generally 
where the hearer is to be hard struck : the moment for 
difRision is where he is to be flooded with detail, as it is 
always appropriate * in enlargement upon commonplaces, 
in perorations and digressions, and in all passages 
written for the style and for display, in scientific and 
physical exposition, and in several other branches of 


THAT Plato (to return to him) flowing ' in some 
such noiseless stream ' ^, none the less reaches 
greatness, you will not fail to recognize, since you have 
read the RepuhRc, and know this typical passage: — 
' Those who are unversed in wisdom and virtue,' it 
runs, 'and spend all their days in feastings and the 
like, are borne downwards, and wander so through life. 
They never yet raised their eyes to the true world 
above them, nor were lifted up, nor tasted of solid or 
pure pleasure; but, like cattle, looking down, and 
bowed to earth and to the table, they feed and fill 
themselves and gender ; and in the greediness of these 
desires they kick and butt one another with horns and 
hoofs of iron, and kill because they cannot be satisfied '.' 
This author shows us, if we would choose not to 

' Plutarch (i«/e of Demosthenes, iii) severely blames Caecilius for 
venturing on a comparision of the two Orators, and quotes a pioveib 
corresponding to one of our own about the whale and the elephant. 

' A quotation from Plato {Theaetetus, p. 144). 

^ Plato, Republic, iz. 586 A. 

30 A Treatise Sect. XIII 

neglect the lesson, that there is als,o_aEatlj«; road, 
besides all that we have mentioned, whigb. leads to the 
sublime. Whatj^^and what manner^of_jroad^ that ? 
''Imitation and em\]Jatjgn,of,grgat writers and poets who 
KaveT)een before us. Here is our mark, my friend, 
let us hold closely to it : for many are borne along 
inspired by a breath which comes from another ; even as 
the story is that the Pythian prophetess, approaching 
the tripod, where is a cleft in the ground, inhales, so 
they say, vapour sent by a god; and then and there, 
impregnated by the divine power, sings her inspired 
chants ' ; even so from the great genius of the men of 
old do streams pass off to the souls of those who 
emulate them, as though from holy caves ; inspired by 
which, even those not too highly susceptible to the god 
are possessed by the greatness which was in others. 

Was Herodotus alone ' most Homeric ' ? There 
was Stesichorus " before him, and Archilochus ; but, 
more than any, Plato drew into himself from that 
Homeric fountain countless runlets and channels of 
water. (Perhaps we ought to have given examples, had 
not Ammonius ' drawn up a selection under headings.) 

' The author follows the same account of the Pythian oracle 
as Strabo (ix. 419) ; but Plutarch, who lived on the spot, makes no 
mention of the mephitic vapour, and indeed uses words (JDe defeetu 
Orac. c. xlii) incompatible with its existence. For the bearing of 
this passage upon the date of the treatise see Introduction. 

' Stesichorus, an early poet (about 600 B. c.) of Himera. 

' Ammonius, a disciple of Aristarchus, the great Alexandrian 
critic, who wrote on words borrowed by Plato from Homer (not, 
as was formerly thought, Ammonius Saccas, a teacher of Cassius 

Sect. XIII Concerning Sublimity 31 

,Jiere is no theft, but such a rendering as is made from 
beautifd spectaSes of from carvings or other worKs of 
art._ I do not think that tJiere would be such aTBloom as 
we find on some of his philosophical dogmas, or that he 
could have entered so often into poetical matter and 
expressions, unless he had entered for the first place 
against Homer, aye, with all his soul, a young 
champion against one long approved ; and striven for 
the mastery, too emulously perhaps and in the spirit of 
the lists, yet not without his reward ; for ' good,' says 
Hesiod, ' is this strife for mortals.' Yes, that contest 
for fame is fair, and its crown worthy of the winning, 
wherein even to be defeated by our forerunners is not 
inglorious '. 


THEREFOI^E even we, when we are working 
out a theme which requires lofty speech and 
greatness of thought, do well to imagine within 
mirggllps h"'"^) 'f " ppd wfre, Homerjvould have said 
this same thing, how Plato or Demosthenes, or, in 
histojj;, Thucydides would have made it sublime. 
The figures of those great men will meet us on the 
way while we vie with them, they will stand out before 

' ' In a word, Homer fills his readers with sublime ideas, and, 
I believe, has 'raised the imagination of all the good poets that 
have come after him. I shall only instance Horace, who immedi- 
ately takes fire at fhe first hint of any passage from the Iliad or 
Odyssy, and always rises above himself when he has Homer in 
view.' Spectator, no. 417 (Addison) ; see also no. 339. 

32 A Treatae Sect. XIV 

Qur_eyes, and lead our souls upwards towards the 
measure of thr~^iC0Eb. w^ . %V6 conjured up. 
SSn'inore so if we add to our mental picture this ; how 
would HomcTj^^ were he here, have listened to this 
phrase of mine ? or Demosthenes ? how would they 
have felt at this? Truly great is this competition, 
where we assume for our own words such a jury, such 
an audience, and pretend that before judges and 
witnesses of that heroic build we undergo a scrutiny of 
what we write. Yet more stimulating_tJian_aUwill it 
be if jou add : ' IF T write this, in what spirit wll all 
future ages hear me?| If any man Tear" tffis1S(5ase- 
quence, that he may say something which shall pass 
beyond his own day and his own life, then needs 
must all which such a soul can grasp be barren, blunted, 
dull ; for it posthumous fame can bring no fulfilment. 


WEIGHT, grandeur, and energy of speaking are 
fiStEer produced in a very high "degree, 
young friend, by appeals to Imagination, called Ey some 
'rmage making^.' Imagination is no doubt a name 
given gener^ly to anythmg^wEich suggests, no matter 
howi,i a thought which engenders speech ; hiit_rfie_wprd 
has in our time come to be applied specially to those 
cases, wherei moved By enthusiasm "and "passion, ypu 

' With this section compare Addison's papers ' On the pleasures 
of the Imagination ', Spectator, 411 and following numbers : also 
the magnificent passage of Pascal beginning ' Cette superbe puissance, 
ennemie de la raison ' {Pensies; i. p. 16, ed. Molinier). 

Sect. XV Concerning Sublimity 3 3 

seem to see the things of which you speak, and place 
t^em_jjfiaer"tEe~ey^rTjf^'youF~hearers. Imagination 
means one thing in rhetoric, another with the poets ; 
andTyou cannoT"feH~tS "o b b ' CTve t ttar the oB5ect df the 
- fatter is to amaze, of the former to give distiactness ; 
both, howeveiT^eek to stir the mind strongly. 

My mother, never hound these maids on me. 
Of bloody visages and snaky locks : 
Here ! here I upon me, nearer yet they leap ! ' 

Alas ! she'll slay me : whither may I flee ? ' 

There the poet saw the Furies with his own eyes, 
and what his imagination presented he almost compelled 
his hearers to behold. Now Euripides is most pains- 
taking in employing for the purposes of Tragedy the 
two passions of madness and love, and is more 
successful with these than, so far as I know, with any 
others; not that he lacks boldness in essaying other 
efforts of imagination. Though his own natural 
genius was far from being great, he yet forced it in 
many instances to become tragic : in every detail of his 
great passages, as the poet has it, 

Sides and loins he lashes to and fro 

With his swift tail, and stirs up battle's thirst '. 

Thus Helios, handing over the reins to Phaethon, 

says : — 

But drive thou not within the Libyan clime, 
Th' unmoistened burning air will split thy car. 

' Euripides, Orestes, 255. ' Iphigenia in Tauris, 291. 

' II. XX. 170. 


34 -^ Treatise Sect. XV 

Then he goes on : — 

Right for the seven Pleiads shape thy course : 
So spake the sire ; the son now grasped the reins, 
And lashed the flanks of those winged coursers. They, 
Set free, sped onwards through th' expanse of air : 
The sire, astride great Sirius ' in the rear, 
Rode, and the boy instructed : — thither drive ! 
Here wheel thy car, yea here I ^ 

Would you not say that the soul of the writer treads 
the car with the driver, and shares the peril, and wears 
wings, as the horses do ; such details could never have 
been imagined by it, if it had not moved in that 
heavenly display, and kept even pace. So in his 
Cassandra ', ' Ho, ye horse loving Trojans . . .' 

Now, whereas Agscbylus haz ards the most heroic 
flights of imaginagQO) as where the Seven chieftains 
against Thebes, in the play of that name : — 

Seven impetuous warriors, captains bold, 
Slaying the sacred bull o'er black-rimm'd shields 
And touching with their hands the victim's gore, 
Ares, Enyo, and blood-thirsting Fear 
Invoked, and swear ... * 

swearing to one another oaths of death, each man of 
his own, with ' no word of ruth * ' ; yet sometimes pro- 
duces thoughts which are not wrought out, but left in 

^ So the MS. An alteration is suggested which gives the sense 
of ' a trace-horse '. Either image is sufficiently extravagant. 

' From the Phaelhon, a lost play of Euripides (Nauck 779). 

' From another lost play, perhaps the Alexander, in which 
Cassandra figured. 

' Aeschylus, Swen against Thebes, 42. Swanwick's tr. 

° Line 51 of the same play. 

Sect. XV Concerning Sublimity ij 

the rough, and harsh ; Euripides in emulation forces 
himself upon the same perils. Thus in Aeschylus the 
palace of Lycurgus is troubled by the Gods in a 
manner passing strange when Dionysus is made 
manifest : — 

See how the palace is possessed, its halls 
Are all a revel . . . 

Euripides has smoothed this over and worded it 
differently ; — 

And all the mountain joined their revelry '- 

Sophocles has used imagination finely about the dying 
Oedipus ^, wEen "¥e" passes to his own burial aimidst 
elemental portents ; and again where Achilles, as the 
GreeEi^are saiEng" aw^'^ appears"%' them above 
his tomb, just when they were standing oiif to sea*, an 
appearance which no one has expressed with more 
vivid imagery than Simonides * ; but it is impossible to , 
put down all instances. We may, however, say gener- 
allyjthat_^wse_found_in_ poets admit an excess which 
passes Jntp_the_mydiical and goes^e ^nd al l that is 
credible ; ^ in rhetorical imagination that which has in 
it reality and tru th is always best. Deviations from 
this rule become strange and exotic when the texture 
of the speech is poetic and mythical, and passes into 

' Euripides, Bacchae, 726. The line of Aeschylus is from 
a lost tetralogy, or set of four plays, called the Lycurgeia. 

' Sophocles, Oedipus Coloneus, 1586, &c. 

' The reference may be to the Polyxena, a lost play of Sophocles. 

' Simonides of Ceos, 556-467 B. c, a great lyric and elegiac 

D 2 

$6 A Treatise Sect. XV 

impossibility of every sort; surely we need look no 
further than to our own clever orators, who, like 
tragedians, see Furies, and cannot, honest gentlemen, 
learn so much as this, that when Orestes says : — 

Unhand me ; one of my own Furies thou ; 

Dost grasp my waist, to thrust me down to hell ? ' 

he imagines all this because he is mad. What_then 
can imagination in rhetoric do ? It can probably con- 
tribute much else to our speeches in energy and passion ; 
•faii r^ertaini yin passages deding with facts an admixture 
of it not only persuades_a listener, but makes him its 
slave, ' Now mark me,' says Demosthenes, ' if at 
this very moment a cry should be heard in front of our 
courts, and then one said that the prison has been 
opened, and the prisoners are escaping, there is no one, 
be he old or young, so careless but will help all he 
can. But if one were to come forward and say, that 
the man who released them is now before you, that 
man would have no hearing, and would instantly die ^,' 
So Hyperides when put on his trial, because he had 
proposed, after our defeat, to make the slaves free ; 
' This proposal,' he said, ' was moved not by the Orator, 
but by the battle at Chaeroneia ' ' ; here, while he deals 
with the facts, he at the same time has used imagination, 

' Euripides, Orestes, 264. 

' Demosthenes, Timoerates, 208. 

* Hyperides, a great Athenian orator, on whom see p. 6 a. 
Plutarch tells us that he was accused of ' illegality ' after the 
disaster of Chaeroneia, and pleaded ' the arms of the Macedonians 
made darkness in my eyes,' and ' it was the fight at Chaeroneia, 
not I, made that proposal.' 

Sect. XV Concerning Sublimity 3 7 

the audacity of the conception has borne him outside and 
beyond persuasion. In all such instances it is a fact of 
nature that we listen to that which is strongest. We 
are therefore drawn away from mere denjonstration to 
that which has in it imagination and surprise, the ele- 
ment of fact being wrapped and lost amid the light 
which shines around it.' This process is only what 
we might expect ; when two forces are combined in 
one, the stronger always attracts into itself the potency 
of the other. 

What I have now written about the sublime effects 
which belong to high thoughts, and which are pro- 
duced by the greatness of man's soul, and secondarily by 
imitation, or by imagination, will suffice '. 


HERE comes the place reserved fo r Figu res ', 
our next topic ; for these, if handled as they 
ought to be, should, as I said, jorm_no_jninor element 

' Some words may have been lost here. 

' Jhe ' Figures,' partly of words, partly of thoughts (see p. 13) 
Were idols of the rhetoricians, who nearly all wrote treatises upon 
them. The bondage in which the orators stood to these ' Figures ' 
is well shown in a story preserved by Seneca (Controv. Ill, 
Introduction). Albucius, an excellent but anxious and self- 
critical member of the Roman bar, was chased out of the profession 
by the unfortunate results of his use of a single figure, the Omotic. 
The other side had proposed to settle a certain matter by a form of 
oath. ' Swear,' replied Albucius, intending by the figure to 
disclose all his opponent's iniquities, 'but I will prescribe the oath, 
Swear by the ashes of your father, which lie unbnried. Swear by 

38 A Treatise Sect. XVI 

in greatness. As however it would be a laborious, or 
rather an unlimited task to give an accurate enumeration 
of all, we will go through a few of those productive 
of greatness of speech, in order to make good my 
assertion, and will begin thus. Demosthenes is 
offering a demonstration in defending his public acts '. 
Now what was the natural way to deal with it ? ' You 
made no mistake, men of Athens, when you took upon 
yourselves the struggle for the freedom of the Greeks : 
you have examples of this near home. For they also 
made no mistake who fought at Marathon, at Salamis, 
at Plataea.' But when, as one suddenly inspired and 
possessed, he breaks out with that oath by the bravest 
men of Greece : ' It cannot be that you made a mistake ; 
no, by those who bore the brunt at Marathon,' he appears 
by use of a single figure, that of adjuration (which here 
I call apostrophe), to have deified those ancestors ; 
suggesting the thought that we ought to swear, as by 
gods, by men who died so; and implanting in the 
judges the spirit of the men who there hazarded their 

the memory of your father I ' He finished his period, and rose. 
L. Aruntius for the other side, said : ' We accept your proposal, 
my client will swear.' ' I made no proposal,' shouted Albucius, 
' I employed a figure.' Aruntius insisted — the court began to fidget. 
Albucius continued to protest that, at that rate, the Figures were 
ruled out of the Universe. 'Rule them out,' said Aruntius, 'we 
shall be able to live without them.' The court took his view, 
and Albucius never opened his mouth in public again. I owe the 
reference to this good story to Prof. Saintsbury, in whose History 
of Literary Criticism, vol. i, will be found much mention of the 
' Figures.' 
' De Corona, 208. 

Sect. XVI Concerning Sublimity 1 9 

lives of old ; changing the very nature of demonstra- 
tion into sublimity and passion of the highest order, 
and the assured conviction of new and more than natural 
oaths ; and, withal, infusing into the souls of his 
hearers a plea of sovereign and specific virtue ; that so, 
relieved by the medicine of his words of praise, they 
should be brought to pride themselves no less on the 
battle against Philip than on the triumphs won at 
Marathon and at Salamis. Doing all this, he caught 
his hearers up and bore them with him, by his use of 
a figure. 

It is said, I know, that the germ of this oath is 
found in Eupolis * : — 

I swear by Marathon, the fight, my fight, 
No man of them unscathed shall vex my heart. 

But then it is not the mere swearing by a name 
which is great ; place, manner, occasion, purpose are 
all essential. In these lines there is an oath, and that 
is all ; it is addressed to Athenians when prosperous 
and needing no comfort ; besides the poet has not 
made immortals of the men, and sworn by them, that 
so he may implant within the hearts of his hearers 
a worthy record of their valour; he has passed away 
from the men who bore the brunt to the inanimate thing, 
the battle. In Demosthenes the oath has been framed 
to suit beaten men, that so Chaeroneia might appear 
a failure no longer ; it is, as I said, at once a demon- 
stration that they made no mistake, an example, an 

' Eupolis, Athenian poet of the Old Comedy, contemporary of 
Aristophanes. The lines are from the Demis, 

40 A Treatise Sect. XVI 

assurance resting on oaths, a word of praise, an 
exhortation. And whereas the orator was liable to be 
met by this objection : ' You are speaking of a defeat 
under your administration, and yet you swear by 
victories,' in the next words he squares his phrase 
by rule, and makes his very words safe, giving us a 
lesson that ' even in Bacchic transports we must yet be 
sober '.' ' By those who bore the brunt,' are his words, 
* at Marathon, by those who fought on sea by Salamis 
and off Artemisium, by those who stood in the ranks 
at Plataea ! ' Nowhere does he say ' who conquered,' 
but throughout he has furtively kept back the word 
which should give the result, because that result was 
a happy one, the contrary to that of Chaeroneia. There- 
fore he gives his hearer no time, and at once adds : — 
' To all of whom the city gave public burial, Aeschines, 
not to those only who succeeded.' 


AT this point I must not omit, my dear friend, to 
l\. state one of my own conclusions. It shall be 
given quite concisely, and is this. As though by 
nature, the_fig!sss jJIyjEltfrnselves with sublimity, and 
in turn are marvellously .supported by the alliance. 
Where and how this is so, I will explain. There 
is a peculiar prejudice against a promiscuous use of 
tl\e figures : it suggests a suspicion of ambuscade, 
plot, sop histry ; and the more so when the speech is 
addressed to a judge with absolute powers, above all 

' Adapted, and partly quoted, from Euripides, Bacchae, $ij. 

Sect. XVII Concerning Sublimity 41 

to tyrants, kings, magistrates of the highest rank : any 
of these at once becomes indignant, if he feels that 
there is an attempt to outwit him, like a silly child, by 
the paltry figure of a skilled orator ; he takes the fallacy 
to be used in contempt for himself, and either rages 
like a wild beast, or, if he master his wrath, yet is 
wholly disinclined to be convinced by the arguments. 
Accordingly a figure is^bestj_when the_ very fact that 
it is a figure passes unnoticed. Therefore sublimity 
and" passion are a help against the suspicion attaching 
to the use of figures, and a resource " of marvellous 
power; because the treacherous art, being once associated 
with what is beautiful and great, enters and remains, 
without exciting the least suspicion. This is sufficiently 
proved in the words quoted above, ' By the men who 
fought at Marathon ! ' By what device has the orator 
concealed the figure ? Clearly, by its very light. Much 
as duller lights are extinguished in the encircling beams 
of the sun, so the artifices of rhetoric are obscured by 
the grandeur poured about them. An effect not far 
removed from this occurs in painting. When colours 
are used, and the light and the shadow lie upon the 
same surface beside one another, the light meets the 
eye before the shadow, and seems not only more 
prominent, but also much nearer. So it is in speeches ; 
sublimity and passion,, lying closer to our souls, always 
come into view sooner than the figures, because of what 
I may call natural kinship, and also of brilliance ; the 
artfulness of the figures is thrown into shadow, and, as 
it were, veiled. 

42 A Treatise Sect. XVIII 


WHAT are we to say of the Questions and 
Interrogations ', which come next ? Is it not true 
that, by the very form which this figure takes, our 
orator gives intensity to his language and makes it much 
more effective and vehement ? 'Or do ye wish (answer 
me, sir !) to go round and inquire one of another : "is 
there any news ? " What can be greater news than this, 
that a man of Macedonia is subduing Greece? Is 
Philip dead ? Not dead. Heaven knows, but sick. 
What matter to you ? if anything happen to him, you 
will quickly make you another Philip ''.' Again, ' Let 
us sail to Macedonia. "What harbour shall we ever 
find to put into ? " asked some one. War will discover 
for itself the weak points in Philip's resources '.' The 
thing put simply would be quite inadequate : as it is, 
the rush and swift return of, question and answer, and 
the meeting of his own difficulty as if it came from 
another, make the words not only more sublime by his 
use of the figure, but actually more convincing. For 
U passionate language is more attractive when it seems to 
|be bom of the occasion, rather than deliberately adopted 
'by the speaker : question and answer carried on with 
a man's self reproduce the spontaneity of passion. Much 
as those who are questioned by others, when spurred by 

' As all the examples are of Question and Answer it seems not 
improbable that one of the two substantives has replaced the word 
' Answers ' in the original. 

' Philippie, i. lo. ' Id. i. 44. 

Sect. XVIII Concerning Sublimity 43 

the sudden appeal, meet the point vigorously and with 
the plain truth, so it is with the figure of question and 
answer; it draws the hearer off till he thinks that each 
point in the inquiry has been raised and put into words 
without preparation, and so imposes upon him. Again 
(for the instance from Herodotus has passed for one of 
the most sublime), if it be thus . . . 

\Here about six pages have been /oj/.] 


THE words drop unconnected, and are, so to say, 
poured forth, almost too fast for the speaker him- 
self. ' Locking their shields,' says Xenophon, ' they 
pushed, fought, slew, died'.' Or take the words of 
Eurylochus in Homer : — 

E'en as thou bad'st, we ranged the thickets through, 
We found a house fair fashioned in a glade ^. 

Phrases cut off from one another, yet spoken rapidly, 
carry the impression of a struggle, where the meaning 
is at once checked and hurried on. Such an effect 
Homer has produced by his Asyndeta. 


/yN excellent and stirring effect is often given by 
Jr\. the concurrence of figures, when two or three 
mingled in one coinpany throw into a common fiind 
their force, cogency, beauty.' Thus in the speech 

' Xenophon, Hist. iv. 3. 19. ' Od. x. 251. 

44 -^ Treatise Sect. XX 

against Midias' we have Asyndeta interwoven with 
repetitions and vivid presentation. ' There are many 
things which the striker might do, yet some of which 
the person struck could never tell another, by gesture, 
by look, by voice.' Then, in order that the passage 
may not continue travelling in the same track (for rest 
shows calm, disarrangement passion, which is a rush 
and a stirring of the mind), he passes with a bound to 
fresh Asyndeta and to repetitions : ' by gesture, by look, 
by voice ; when in insult, when in enmity, when with 
fists, when as slave.' In these phrases the orator does 
what the striker did, he belabours the intellect of the 
judges by the speed of blow following blow. Then 
he goes back from this point, and makes a fresh onset, 
as gusts of wind do ; ' when with fists, when on the 
face,' he goes on, 'these things stir, these make men 
frantic, to whom insult is not familiar. No one by 
telling of these things could possibly represent their 

// Thus he keeps up in essence throughout the passage 
jhis repetitions and Asyndeta, while he continually varies 
them ; so that his order is disorderly, and again his 
violation of order has in it order of a kind. 


Now insert, if you will, conjunctions, as the 
school of Isocrates does : "''~A"gam we must not 
omit this point either, that there are many things which 
the striker might do, first by gesture, and then by look, 
' Midias, 72. 

Sect. XXI Concerning Sublimity ^s 

and yet further by his very voice ' : if you rewrite the 
passage in full sequence, you will recognize how the 
press and rough effectiveness of passion, when smoothed 
to one level by conjunctions, fails to pierce the ear, 
and its fire at once goes out. For as, if one should tie 
up the limbs of runners, their speed is gone, so passion 
cha fes to be shackled by conju nctions and other ¥d^- 
tions. The freedom of running is destroyed, and the 
moniSum as of bolt from catapult. 


UNDER the same head we must set cases of 
Hyperbaton. This is a disturbance of the proper 
sequence of phras esw^tHbugEjS, and is the surest impress 
oTvehement passion. For as those who are really angry, 
orln fearTormSignant, or who fall under the influence 
of jealousy or any other passion (for passions are many, 
nay countless, past the power of man to reckon), are seen 
to put forward one set of ideas, then spring aside to 
another, thrusting in a parenthesis out of all logic, then 
wheel round to the first, and in their excitement, like a 
ship before an unsteady gale, drag phrases and thoughts 
sharply across, now this way, now that, and so divert 
the natural order into turnings innumerable; so is it in the 
best writers : imitation of nature leads them by way of 
Hyperbata to the effects of nature. For art is perfect 
just when it seems to be nature, and nature successful 
when the art underlies it unnoticed. Take the speech 
of Dionysius of Phocaea in Herodotus' : — 'Our fortunes 
^ Herodotus, vi. ir. 

4<J A Treatise Sect,XXii 

rest on the edge of a razor, O lonians, whether we are 
to be free or slaves, aye runaway slaves. Now, therefore, 
if you choose to take up hardships, there is toil for you 
in the present, but you will be able to overcome your 
enemies.' The natural order was, ' O lonians, now is 
the time for you to accept toils, for our fortunes rest on 
the edge of a razor.' He has transposed the words 
' Men of Ionia,' starting at once with the mention of 
the fear, and entirely omitting, in view of the pressing 
terror, to find time to name his audience. Then he has 
inverted the order of the thoughts. Before sajring that 
they must endure toil (which is the point of his exhor- 
tation) he first assigns the cause why they should do so : 
' our fortunes ', he says, ' rest on the edge of a razor ' : 
so that his words seem not to have been prepared, but 
to be forced out of him. Even more marvellous is 

E'hucydides in the skill with which he separates, by the 
le of Hyperbata, things which nature has made one and 
separable. Demosthenes is not so arbitrary as he; yet 
he is never tired of the use of this figure in all its applica- 
tions ; the effect of vehemence which he produces by 
transposition is great, and also that of speaking on the 
call of the moment; besides all this he draws his hearers 
with him to face the hazards of his long Hyperbata. 
For he often leaves suspended the thought with which 
he began, and interposes, as though he struck into a trdn 
of reasoning foreign to it and dissimilar, matter which 
he rolls upon other matter, all drawn from some source 
outside, till he strikes his hearer with fear that an entire 
collapse of the sentence will follow, and forces him by 

Sect. XXII Concerning Sublimity 47 

mere vehemence to share the risk with the speaker: then, 
when you least expect, after a long interval, he makes 
good the -thought which has so long been owing, and 
works in his own way to a happy conclusion : making 
the whole a great deal more impressive by the very hazard 
and imminenceof failure which goes with his Hyperbata '. 
Let us spare more instances : there are so many. 


NEXT come jthe figures of many cases, so-called ; 
groupings, changes, gra dations, which are very 
effective, as youTiiow, and work in with ornament, 
^\jHteitty^of e veiy TSnd, an d passion. Only look at 
variations of case, tense, person, number, gender : 
how they embroider and enliven our expressions ! Of 
those which are concerned with number, I assert that 
not only are those instances ornamental where the form 
is singular, and the meaning, when you look into them, 
is found to be plural : — 
At once the people in its multitude 
Break man from man, shout ' tunny ! ' o'er the beach " ; 
but the other class deserves even more attention, because 

' In this long period the writer has fallen, as he often does, into 
the vein of the author whom he is considering. 

" The tunny is a Mediterranean fish, a large mackerel. ' The 
fishermen place a look-out or sentinel on some elevated spot, who 
makes the signal that the shoal of tunnies is approaching, and 
points out the direction in which it will come. Immediately 
a great number of boats set off, range themselves in a curved line, 
and, joining their boats, drive the tunnies towards the shore, where 
they are eventually killed with poles.* — From The Sea and Ut 
Living Wonders, by Hartwig. 

48 A Treatise Sect.XXllI 

there are cases where plurals fall on the ear with grander 
effect, and catch our applause by the effect of multitude 
which the number gives. Take' an instance from 
Sophocles in the Oedipus ' : — 

O marriage rites 
That gave me birth, and having borne me, gave 
To me in turn an offspring, and ye showed 
Fathers and sons, and brothers, all in one, 
Mothers and wives, and daughters, hateful names. 
All foulest deeds that men have ever done. 

All these express one name, Oedipus, and on the 
other side Jocasta ; but for all that, the number, spread 
out into plurals, has made the misfortunes plural also ; 
or in another case of many for one : ' Forth Hectors 
issued and Sarpedons ^.' And there is the passage of 
Plato, which I have quoted also in another place, about 
the Athenians ' : — 

' No Pelopses, nor Cadmuses, nor Aegyptuses, nor 
Danai, nor other of the natural-bom barbarian dwell 
here with us ; pure Greeks with no cross of barbarian 
blood are we that dwell in the land,' and so forth. For 
things strike on the ear with more sonorous effect 
when the names are thus piled upon one another in 
groups. Yet this should be done in those cases alone 
where the subject admits of enlargement, or multiplication, 
or hyperbole, or passion, either one of these, or several : 
for we know that to go everywhere ' hung about with 
ibells ' is a sophist's trick indeed *. 

' Oedipus Tyrannus, 1403. ' Unknown. 

" Menexenus, 245 D. 

* ' Other men take their misfortunes quietly, he hangs out bells 

Sect. XXIV Concerning Sublimity 49 


YET, on the other hand, contraction from plural to ( 
singular sometimes produces an effect conspicuously I 
sublime. ' Then all Peloponnesus was ranged on different / 
sides,' says the Orator*. And look at this, 'when[ 
Phrynichus exhibited his drama, the Taking of 
Miletus, the whole theatre fell into tears'.' Where 
separate individuals are compressed into unity t he notio n 
of a single body is produced. In both cases the cause 
of the ornamental effect is the same : where terms are 
properly singular, to turn them into plurals shows emotion 
into which the speaker is surprised ; where plural, to 
bring several individuals under one so norous head is a 
change in the opposite direction, and equally unexpected. 


A GAIN, where you introduce things past and done as \ 
jr\. happening in the actual present, you will make your 
account no longer a narrative but a living action. 'A man 
whohasfallen under thehorse of Cyrus,' says Xenophon', 
' and is being trampled, strikes his sword into the belly 
of the horse : the horse plunges and unseats Cyrus, and 
he falls.' So Thucydides in most instances. 

in his daily life a next thing to it.' — Demosthenes, Arislogeilon, 
i. go. 

1 De Corona, i8. 

" Herodotus vi. 21. The words used in the translation are taken 
from Herodotus. Our treatise has: 'the spectators burst into 
tears,' by which the point of the 'figure' is missed. 

' Cyropaedeia, vii. 1. 37. 

LONG. TR. £ 

fo A Treatise Sect. 


EFFECTIVE also in the same way is the trans- 
position of persons, which often makes a hearer 
think that he is moving in the midst of the dangers 
described : — 

Of toughest kind 
Thou wouldst have called those hosts, so manfully 
Each fought with each '. 

And Aratus ' has : — 

Not in that month may seas about thee surge ! 

In much the same way Herodotus : ' You will sail up 
stream from the city Elephantina, and then you will 
come to a level plain. Passing through this tract, you 
will again embark on another and sail for two days ; 
then you will reach a great city, whose name is Meroe'.' 
You see, comrade, how he takes your spirit with him 
through the place, and turns hearing into seeing. All 
such passages, being addressed to the reader in his own 
person, make him take his place at the very centre of 
the action. Again, when you speak as though to a single 
individual, not to all : — 

Nor of the son of Tydeus couldst thou know 
If he with Trojans or Achaians were * ; 

you will render him more moved by the passions and 
also more attentive; he is filled fiill of the combat, 
because he is roused by being himself addressed. 

• 11. XV. 697. 

" Phaenomma, 287 (see above on p. 35). ' ii. 29. 

• /;. V. 85. 

XXVII Concerning Sublimity fi 


THEN there are other cases where the writer is 
giving a narrative about a person, and by a sudden 
transition himsel f pass es into that p erson ; in this class/ 
there is an outburst of passion : — / 

But Hector warned the Trojans with loud cry, 
To rush upon the ships, and pass the plunder by : 
' But whom elsewhere than at the ships I sight, 
Death shall be his that moment*.' 

Here the poet has assigned the narradve part to 
himself, as is fitting : the sharp threat he has suddenly, 
without previous explanation, attached to the angry 
chieftain: it would have been cold had he inserted 
' Hector then said so and so,* whereas now the change 
of construction has anticipated the poet's change of 

Hence the proper use of the figure is where th« 
occasion is short and sharp, and does not allow the 
writer to stop, but forces him to hurry from person t( 
person, as in Hecataeus ' : ' Ceyx, indignant at this, 
at once commanded the Heraclidae of the later genera- 
tion to leave the country : " for I have no power to help 
you ; therefore, that you may not perish yourselves, 
and infiict a wound on me, depart to another people." ' 
Demosthenes, in his Aristogeiton speech', has found 

* n. XV. 346-9. 

' Hecataeus of Miletus (living about B.c. 520), historian and 
' Aristogeiton, i. 27. 

E 2 

fi A Treatiie Sect. 

a different method to throw passion and swiftness into 
this change of persons : ' And will none of you be 
found,' he says, ' to entertain wrath or indignation at 
the violence of this shameless miscreant ; who, thou 
foulest of mankind, when thy effrontery is stopped, 
not by barriers nor by gates, such as man might open 
' He has not finished what he intended, but pass- 
ing quickly aside, and, I had almost said, splitting a 
single sentence between two persons, because he is so 
angry — ' Who, thou foulest of mankind,' he says ; 
with the result that, having turned his speech away 
from Aristogeiton, and having done with him, you 
tliink, he directs it upon him again with far more 
intensity through the passion. 

Much in the same way Penelope : — 

What brings thee, herald, thee, the pioneer 
Of these imperious suitors ? Do they send 
To bid the servants of my husband dear 
Of their appointed task-work to make end, 
And on their lordly revelries attend ? 
Never elsewhere may they survive to meet ! 
Here in these halls, while our estates they rend, 
May they their latest and their last now eat, 
Who thus with outrage foul Telemachus entreat. 
Ye to your parents heedful ear lend none, 
Nor hearken how Odysseus lived of yore '. 

1 Orf. iv. 68i. 

XXVIII Concerning Sublimity j-j 


NO one I think would be in doubt as to £eii^ 
phrasis being a factor of sublimity. For as in! 
musicTarapKones' make the principal melody sweeter *, 
so Periphra5is_o ftensh«nesJaJi3thjh^^ 
anathe concurrence adds to the be aut y, mor e especially 
if it have not a ny windy, unmusical ef&ct, but be 
pleasantly j;gt[^)aUQded. In proof of this it will be 
sufficient to quote Plato at the beginning of the Funeral 
Speech': — ' Of all that we can give, these have now 
what is rightly theirs, and, having received it, they 
pass on their appointed journey, escorted publicly by 
the city, personally each man by those of his kin.' 
Here he has called death an ' appointedjoumey,' and 
the bestowal of the ii£^3T'"??<wjTjiiiHiy_ pstiMt..givg" 
by their country.' Is the dignity added to the thought 
'^ these tums^ut a smatPrriatter^ Or fiSTierather 
takeir laiiguuge ^lam SH~una3oimed, and made it 
melodious by pouring around it the harmonies which 
came of periphrasis ? Xenophon again : — ' Ye reckon 
toil to be the guide to happy life, and have received it 

' Paraphones, The musical term is an obscure one. It has 
been suggested that our Author means to contrast the rich effect of 
a chord with the thinner sound of a single note, and thus to 
illustrate, through the notion of musical accompaniment, the 
relation of a periphrasis to a ample word or phrase. The phrase 
has been sometimes identified with Cicero's ' iaisae vocuiae ' {de 
Orat. iii. 98). See the authorities quoted in the Appendix. 

' Menexenus, 336 D. 

^4 -^ Treatise Sect, 

into your souls as the fairest and the most gallant of 
all possessions: for ye take more delight in being praised 
than in any other thing '.' By calling toil ' the guide to 
happy life,' and giving a like expansion to the other 
points, he has attached to his words of praise a great 
and definite thought. And that inimitable phrase of 
Herodotus : — ' On those of the Scythians who 
plundered the temple the goddess sent a plague which 
made them women.' ^ 


YET Periphrasis is exposed tp_5pecial iisks^_inore 
special than any of the figures, if used by a writer_ 
withour"Sefi'se "STpfSpsniotrr for ttfalls feebly on the 
ear, and savours of tHHing and of rank stupidity. So 
when Plato, (for he always employs the figure with great 
force, occasionally out of season,) says in the Laws ' : 
" we must not allow wealth, either of silver or of gold, 
to be established in the city and settle there,' mocking 
critics say that, if he had wanted to forbid them to 
possess sheep, he would clearly have talked of ' wealth 
of sheep and wealth of cattle*.' 

Enough however of this disquisition (which came in 
by way of parenthesis) on the use of figures in pro- 
ducing sublime effects, all those which we have men-: 

' Cyropaedia, i. 5. la. ' i. 105. ' Laws, vii. 80. I. 

* It has been pointed out by Dr. Verrall (Class. Rev, xix. 
p. 303) that the writer ignores the fact that Plato is avowedly 
quoting from poetry. (See Introduction.) 

XXIX Concerning Sublimity ff 

tioned make speeches more passionate and stirring ; 
an(Ppassionris aTlarge^^£n^°^^reHK^'ih sUUimity as 
sense oTcEracter in an agreeable style. 


NEXT, since the thoug ht_and^ the diction of a 
speech are in most cases mutually interlaced, 
I will ask you to consider with me whether any 
partiS[aT oF what concerns^ expression ..^li^SBiain. 
That a choice of the right words and of grand words 
wonderfully attracts and charms hearers — that this 
stands very high as a point of practice with all orators 
and all writers, because, of its own inherent virtue, it 
brings greatness, beauty, raciness, weight, strength, 
mastery, and an exultation all its own, to grace our words, 
as though they were the fairest statues — that it imparts 
to mere facts a soul which has speech — it may perhaps 
be superfluous to set out at length, for my readers know 
it. For beautiful words are, in a r eal and sp ecialsense, 

the light of i^iiniight - VVf-Tt;pir^nj:|ji^<ity is n^t; qf spryice 

in jjCpiaces,!. to apply to trifling details grand and 
solemn words would appear much the same as if one 
were to fasten a large tragic mask upon a little child '. 
Yet in poetry . . . 

[Here about twelve pages have been lostJ\ 

1 The same figure is used by Quintilian (vi. I. 36). 

ftf A Treatise Sect. 


. . . very rich and pithy ; and this of Anacreon ' : — 

The Thracian filly has no more my care. 
So too the novel phrase of Theopompus' has merit, 
from the closeness of the correspondence it appears to 
me most expressive, yet Caecilius has strangely found 
fault with it. ' Philip,' he says, ' has a rare power of 
swallowing down facts perforce.' So vulgar idiom is 
sometimes much more expressive than ornamental 
language; itis recogniz,§4j?tpnc£as"atoucff^jpmmon 
life; a nd what is familiar is on the way to be crediUe^ 
Therefore, when applied to a man who patiently puts 
up with and enjoys what is mean and repulsive in order 
to better himself, the phrase adopted, ' to swallow down 
perforce,' is very telling. So in Herodotus ' : — ' Then 
Cleomenes went mad, and cut his own flesh with the 
knife into little strips, until he had made collops of 
himself and so died.' And 'Pythes held on to his 
ship and fought until he was chopped to pieces*.' 
These scrape the corner of vulg ar idiom, but they 
"Sei^t vulgar Becailse they are so expressive. 

' Anacreon of Teos, a lyric poet who died about B.C. 4^8. 
Most of the well-known poems which bear his name are spurious. 

^ Theopompus, an historian of Chios, born about B.c, 37S. 
see p. 75. 

' vi. 75. * vii. 181. 

XXXII Concerning Sublimity S7 


AS to number of Metaphors, Caecilius appears to 
.ijf"agree"witli those wHo'Tay Hown a rule allowing 
two, or at the most three, applied to the same object. 
About such figures again Demosthenes is the true 
standard, and the time for their use is, when passions 
are driven onwards like a torrent, and draw with them- 
selves, as necessary to the passage, the multiplication of 

' Men foul and flatterers,' he says, ' having mutilated 
their fatherlands, every one of them, having pledged 
away their freedom in wine, first to Philip, now to 
Alexander, measuring happiness by their belly and by 
the appetites which are most shameful, having thrown 
to the ground that freedom and that life without a 
master, wherein the Greeks of old found their very 
standard and definition of good '.' Here the orator's 
wrath against the traitors screens the number of the 
metaphors used. Accordingly Aristotle and Theo- 
phrastus " say that bold metaphors are softened by such 
devices as the insertion of 'as though,' and 'as it 
were,' and ' if I may speak thus,' and ' if I am right 
in using somewhat venturesome phrase* ; for 'censure,' 
they say, ' cures bold expression.' For myself, I 
accept all these ; yet I afiirm, as I said in speaking of 
figures, ij^at bursts of passion, being seasonable and 

' De Corona, 296. 

' Theophrastus, of Lesbos, Aristotle's successor as head of the 
Peripatetic School at Athens. 

f8 A Treatise Sect. 

vehement, and sublimity when genuine, are sure speci- 
-fics~foF numerous ^an3~Haring metaphors ; because as 
they surge and sw«epj_they^ naturaUy^^aw everything 
their_own way, and force it onwards, rather, I would 
say, they require and exact bold metaphors, and do not 
allow the hearer leisure to go into questions of their 
number, because the speaker's excitement is his. Yet 
further, in speeches _about commonplaces and in set 
descriptions, nothing ig,ao„ejgjressive as contiuBsd, and 
succ^sise^ tropesv It is by means of these that in 
Xenophon ' the anatomy of man's bodily tabernacle is 
painted with so much magnificence, and still more 
admirably in Plato ^. The head he calls the citadel ; 
between this and the chest an isthmus has been con- 
structed, the neck, to which vertebrae have been 
attached like hinges ; pleasure is a bait tempting men to 
their hurt, and the tongue supplies the test of taste ; the 
heart is the knot of the veins, and the fountain of the 
blood which courses violently around, is appointed to 
be the guard-house. The passages or pores he calls lanes. 
' For the beating of the heart, in the expectation of 
danger or on the summons of wrath, because it is a 
fiery organ, they devised a resource, introducing the 
structure of the lungs, which are soft and bloodless, 
and perforated with cavities like a sponge, in order 
that, when wrath boils up within it, the heart may 
beat upon a yielding substance, and so receive no hurt.' 
The chamber where the appetites dwell he styled the 
women's chamber, that where the passions, the men's 
' Memorabilia, i. 4. f . ' Timaeus, 69 D. 

XXXII Concerning Sublimity S9 

chamber. The spleen is a napkin for the parts within ; 
filled with their purgings it grows large and unsound. 
'After this,' he goes on, 'they enshrouded all with 
fleshy parts, placing the flesh in front, to be a pro- 
tection from matter outside, like layers of felt.' He 
called blood the food of the fleshy parts. ' And for 
the sake of nourishment they made water-courses 
through the body, like water-courses cut in gardens, 
that the currents of the veins might run as from an 
inflowing stream, the body being a narrow canal.' But 
when the end is at hand, he says that the cables of the 
souls are loosed, as though of a ship, and it is let go 
free. Countless similar details follow : those which 
we have set down suffice to show how grand in their 
nature tropical expressions are7~and how metaphors 
produce sublimity, and that impassioned and descriptive 
passages admit them most readily. Yet that the use 
of tropes, IJEe aff other beauties of style, leads writers 
on to neglect proportion, is clear without my saying it. 
For it is upon these especially that critics pull Plato to 
pieces, he is so often led on, as though his style were 
possessed, into untempered and harsh metaphors and 
portentous allegory. ' For it is not easy to realize,' he 
says, ' that a city ought to be mixed like a cup, where- 
into wine is poured and boils ; yet, when chastened by 
another and a temperate god, in that fair partnership 
forms an honest and a sober draught.' For to call 
water ' a temperate god,' they say, and admixture 
' chastening,' is the mark of a poet who is anything but 
sober. Caecilius however, taking up such weak points 

6o A Treatise Sect. 

as this in his pamphlets in praise of Lysias ', actually 
dared to make out Lysias better all round than Plato, 
mixing up two different feelings : for loving Lysias 
more than he loved himself, he yet hates Plato more 
thoroughly than he loves Lysias. Only he is carried 
away by combatireness, nor are his premisses admitted 
as he thought them to be. For he puts forward his 
orator as without a fault and clear in his record, as 
against Plato who had made many mistakes. The fact 
is not so, nor anything like it. 


COME now : let us find some writer who is really 
clear and beyond criticism. Upon this point, is 
it^ not worth while to raise the question in a general 
f^rm, whether in poems and prose writings a greatness 
with some failings is the better, or a genius which is 
limited in its successes, but is always sound and never 
drops ? Aye, and this further question ; whether the 
first prize should be carried off by the most numerous 
excellences in literature or by the greatest? These 
questions are germane to the subject of Sublimity, and 
absolutely require a decision. I know, for my own part, 

^ Attic orator (about B.C. 459-380). ' His distinctive qualities 
are a delicate mastery of the purest Attic, a subtle power of 
expressing character, a restrained sense of humour, and a certain 
flexibility of mind which enables him under the most diverse 
circumstances to write with almost unfailing tact and charm with 
that x<V" • • ■ which the old critics felt in him.* — Prof. Sir R. C. 
Jebb, SeUcliotu from Attic Orators, p. 186. 

XXXIII Concerning Sublimity 6\ 

•that genius of surpassing greatness has always the least 
clear record. Precision in every detail comes perilousry 
near littleness ; "JsqgTea.natureSi as In great ibrfunesi " 
there ought to be something which may even be 
"neglected. Further, this may perhaps be a necessary 
law, that humble or modest geniusT" wliicK never runs 
a risk, and never aims at excellence, remains in most 
cases without a failure and in comparative safety ; but 
that what jj^ great js hazardous by very reason of the 
greatness. Not that I fail to recognize this second law, 
that all human things are more easily recognized on 
their worse sTdF;" that the' memory of failures remains 
indeliBle, while that of the good points passes quickly 
away. I have myself brought forward not a few 
failures in Homer and in others of the very greatest, 
yet never take pleasure in their slips, which I do not 
call voluntary mistakes, but rather oversights caused by 
the random, haphazard carelessness of great genius, 
and passed unmarked by it ; and I remain unshaken in 
my opinion, that in all cases great excellence, although 
not kept up to one fevel^ throughout, should always 
bear off first award, if for nothing else, yetfbr the 
sake of simple intellectual greatness. To take an 
instance, ApoUonius in the Argonautae ^ is a poet who 
never drops, and Theocritus ' in his Pastorals is most 
successful, except as to a few extraneous matters : now 

*■ ApoUonius of Rhodes (bom about B.C. 335), an Alexandrian 
poet, to whom Virgil is much indebted. 

' Theocritus, the great pastoral poet, living at Syracuse about 
380 B.C. 

62 A Treatise Sect. 

this being so, would you not rather be Homer than 
ApoUonius ? Take again Eratosthenes ' in the Erigone, 
a little poem with nothing in it to blame; is he a 
greater poet than Archilochus °, who drags much ill- 
arranged matter along in that outpouring of divine 
inspiration which it is difficult to range under a law ? 
In lyrics again, would you choose to be Bacchylides ' 
rather than Pindar, in Tragedy Ion of Chios than 
Sophocles himself? * These poets no doubt never drop, 
their language is always smooth and the writing beautiful, 
whereas Pindar and Sophocles at one time set all ablaze 
in their rush, but the fire is quenched when you least 
expect it, and they fail most unhappily. Am I not 
right in saying that no man in his senses, if he put the 
works of Ion together in a row, would value them 
against a single play, the Oedipus ? * 

* Eratosthenes of Cyrene. A great astronomer and scientific 
geographer, born about B.C. 276. He also wrote on Homer and 
on the Old Attic Comedy. Nothing else is known of this ' fault- 
less poem,' but he is said to have been a pupil of Callimachus, and 
to have written an astronomical poem, Hermes. 

' Archilochus, see above, p. 25. 

' Bacchylides of Ceos, a lyric poet, contemporary with Pindar, 
and his rival. His works, other than mere fragments, have been 
known to us since 1 897, when they were published by Dr. F. G. 
Kenyon from a recently discovered Egyptian papyrus. Interesting 
as they are, the judgement of our critic as to their relative poetic 
value, is confirmed. 

' Ion of Chios, a tragic poet of considerable merit, contemporary 
with Sophocles : he attempted literature in almost all its branches, 
and was famous as an anecdotist. 

' With this judgement on Sophocles, which comes to us as some- 
thing of a surprise, compare Plutarch (fin hearing poets, c. xiii), 

XXXIV Concerning Sublimity 6^ 


IF successful passages were to be numbered, not 
weighed; ~Hyperides '■ would, dn jTijs reckonuig, 
far surpass "DemdstHenes. He sounds more notes ^, 
andT)as"Tnore pomts of excellence ; he wins a second 
place in pretty well every competition, like the hero 
of the Pentathlon, being beaten for the first prize 
by some trained competitor in each, but standing first 
of the non-professionals. Hyperides certainly, besides 
matching the successful points in Demosthenes, always 
excepting composition, has included, over and above 
these, the virtues and graces of Lysias. He talks 
with simplicity, when it is required, not in a sustained 
monotonous manner like Demosthenes, and he shows 
sense of character, a fiavouring added with a light 
hand ; he has indescribable graces, the wit of a man 
who knows life, good breeding, irony with readiness 
of fence, jokes not vulgar nor ill-bred as in those 
great Attic orators, but appropriate, clever raillery, 
comic power in plenty, the sting which goes with well- 
aimed fun, and with all this what I may call inimitable 
charm. He has a strong natural gift for compassion, 
and also for telling a story fluently, running through 
a description before a flowing breeze with admirable 
who says that Sophocles may be blamed ' for his inequality.' Bergk 
understands it with reference to such passages as Antigone, 904, &c., 
which many good judges hare felt unable to accept as genuine. 

' Hyperides, an Attic orator, born about B.C. 396, died 322, 
' the Sheridan of Athens.' Sir R. C. Jebb in Atlie Orators, vol. 
ii. c. 22, where this passage of our text is translated. 

' ' He has more tones in his voice,' Jebb, 

54 -^ "Treatise Sect. 

ease in tacking : for instance, the story of Latona he 
has treated rather as a poet, the Funeral Speech as 
a set, perhaps an unmatched, effort of the oratory of 
display. Demosthenes has no touches of character, 
no flowing style ; certainly he is not supple, and 
cannot speak for display: he lacks the whole list 
of qualities mentioned above : when he is forced to 
be witty and smart, he raises a laugh against, rather 
than with himself; when he wants to approach charm 
of manner he passes farthest from it. We may be 
sure that if he had attempted to write the little speech 
on Phryne or that on yithenogenes, he would have 
established even more firmly the fame of Hyperides. 
As I see it, the case stands thus : — The beauties 
of the latter though they be many, are devoid of 
greatness \ dull ' to a sober man's heart,* and allow the 
hearer to rest unmoved (who feels fear when he reads 
Hyperides ?) ; Demosthenes ' taking up the tale ',' adds 
excellences of the highest genius and of consummate 
perfection, sublimity of tone, passions in living em- 
bodiment, copiousness, versatility, speed ; also, which 
is his own prerogative, ability and force beyond 
approach. Now whereas, I say, he has drawn to 
himself in one all those marvellous and heaven-sent 
gifts, for human we may not call them, therefore by 
the beauties which he has he surpasses all other men 

' Similar words occur in a passage of Plutarch (2)« Garr. 4) 
where they appear to be a poetical quotation. 

' An Homeric phrase {Od, viii. 500), used when one minstrel 
succeeds another. 

XXXV Concerning Sublimity 6$ 

and outmatches those which he has not. With his 
thunder, with his lightning, he bears down the 
orators of all time ; sooner might one open one's eyes 
in the face of thunderbolts as they rush, than gaze full 
upon the passions which follow upon passions in 


WHEN we come to Plato, there is, as I said, 
another kind of pre-einmence. For Lysias, who 
is far below him in the number, as well as in the 
magnitude of his good points, is yet more in excess of 
him in faults than in defect as to good points. What 
then did those immortals see, the writers who aimed 
at all which is greatest, and scorned the accuracy 
which lies in every detail ? They saw many other 
things, and they also saw this, that Nature determined 
man to be no low or ignoble animal ; but introducing 
us into life and this entire universe as into some vast 
assemblage, to be spectators, in a sort, of her contests, 
and most ardent competitors therein, did then implant 
in our souls an invincible and eternal love of that 
which is great and, by our own standard, more divine. 
Therefore it is, that for the speculation and thought 
which are within the scope of human endeavour not all 
the universe together is sufficient, our conceptions often 
pass beyond the bounds which limit it ; and if one 
were to look upon life all round, and see how in all 
things the extraordinary, the great, the beautiful stand 
supreme, he will at once know for what ends we have 
been bom. So it is that, as by some physical law, we 

66 A Treatise Sect. 

admire, not surely the little streams, transparent though 
they be, and useful too, but Nile, or Tiber, or Rhine, 
and far more than all, Ocean ; nor are we awed by 
this little flame of our kindling, because it keeps its 
light clear, more than by those heavenly bodies, often 
obscured though they be, nor think it more marvellous 
than the craters of Etna, whose eruptions bear up 
stones and entire masses, and sometimes pour forth 
rivers of that Titanic and unalloyed fire. Regarding 
all such things we may say this, that what is serviceable 
or perhaps necessary to man, man can procure; what 
passes his thought wins his wonder. 


HENCE, when we speak of men of great genius 
in literature, where the greatness does not 
necessarily fall outside the needs and service of man, 
we must at once arrive at the conclusion, that men of 
this stature, though far removed from flavyless ^per- 
fection, yet all rise above the mortal : other qualities 
prove those wHo possess them to be men, sublimity 
raises them almost to the intellectual greatness~3^od. 
No failure, no blame ; but greatness has our very wonder. 
What need still to add, that each of these great men 
is oft«i_ seen to redeem all his failures by a single 
sufiimity, a single success ; and further, which is most 
convincing, that if we were to pick out all the failures 
of Homer, Demosthenes, Plato, and the other greatest 
writers, and to mass them together, the result would 
be a small, an insignificant fraction of the successes 

XXXVI Concerning Sublimity 67 

which men of that heroic build everywhere exhibit. 
Therefore every age and all time, which envy itself 
can never prove to be in its dotage, has bestowed upon 
them the assured prizes of victory ; it guards and keeps 
them to this day safe and inalienable, and will as it 
seems, keep them 

As long as waters flow and poplars bloom'. 
To the writer, however, who objects that the faulty 
Colossus is not better work than the Spearman of 
Polycleitus * I might say much, but I say this. In 
Art the most accurate work is jdmired, in the works of 
Nature greatness. Now it is by Nature that man is 
a bemg endowed" with speech; therefore in statues we 
seek what is like man, in speech what surpasses, as I 
said, human st andard s. Yet it is right (for our precept 
returns to the early words of this treatise), because the 
success of never failing is in most cases due to Art, 
the success of high aldiou^ not uniform excellence, to 
Geniusj_.that, therefore. Art should ever be brought in 
to aid Nature ; where they are reciprocal the result 
sliould be perfection. It was necessary to go thus far 
towards a decision upon the points raised : let every one 
take the view which pleases him, and enjoy it. 

* From an epigram on Midas, quoted by Plato (Phatdna, 
264 C). The somewhat sentimental character of the quotation 
here may be noticed. 

^ Perhaps the famous Colossus of Rhodes, perhaps a later work. 
Polycleitus, an artist of Sicyon of the fifth century B. c. His 
Spearman was known as the ' Canon ' or Standard of proportion 
in Art. Copies have reached us, of which the best is probably 
a figure from Herculaneum now at Naples. 

F 2 

6i A Treatise Sect. 


IN close neighbourhood to Metaphors, for we must 
go back to them, come Illustrations and Similes, 
which differ from them in this respect . . } 

[Here about six pages have been lostJ\ 


SUCH Hyperboles as this arealsojudjcrous, ' un- 
less you~wear'your"Brains in your heels to be 
trampled down'.' I^nce we ought to know exact- 
ly how far each should go, Tor^ sometimes to advance 
beyond these limits destroys the hyperbole ; in such 
cases extreme tension brings relaxation, and even 
works right round to its opposite. Thus Isocrates 
fell into a strange puerility owing to his ambition to 
amplify at all points. The Argument of his Pane- 
gyricus is that the state of the Athenians surpasses 
that of the Lacedaemonians in services to the Greeks ; 
but at the very beginning he has this : — ' More- 
over words are so potent, that it is possible thereby 
to make what is great lowly, and to throw great- 
ness about what is small, and to treat old things 
in a new fashion, and those which have recently 

/ * ' The simile too is a metaphor, the difference between them 

' being only slight. Thus where Homer says of Achilles that " he 

rushed on like a lion," it is a simile ; but when he says that "he 

rushed on, a very lion," it is a metaphor.' — Aristotle, Rhetorie, 3, 

c. iv, tr. Welldon. 

' From the Halonnesus, a speech once attributed to Demosthenes. 

XXXVIII Concerning Sublimity 6^ 

happened in an old fashion.' ' ' What, Isocrates ', 
some one will say, ' do you mean then to change the 
parts of the Lacedaemonians and Athenians^' For 
this set praise of speech goes near to an open warning 
at the outset not to believe him. Possibly then the 
best hyperboleSj as we said above in speaking of figures, 
are those which are not noticed as hyperboles at all. 
This result is^ obtained jvhen they are uttered in an 
outburst of strong feeling and in harmony widb a certain 
grandeur in the crisis described, as where Thucydides 
is speaking of the men slaughtered in Sicily. ' For 
the Syracusans', he says, 'also came down and 
butchered them, but especially those in the water, 
which was thus immediately spoiled, but which they 
went on drinking just the same, mud and all, bloody 
as it was, even fighting to have it.' ' That blood and 
mud were drunk together, and yet were things fought over, 
passes for credible in the intensity of the feeling and 
in the crisis. The passage in Herodotus about the 
men of Thermopylae is similar : ' On this spot ', he 
says, ' while defending themselves with daggers, that 
is, those who still had them left, and also with hands 
and with teeth, they were buried alive under the 
missiles of the Barbarians.' ' Here ' What sort of 
thing is it', you will say, 'to fight with very teeth 
against armed men ', or what to be ' buried alive under 
missiles ' ? But it passes for true like the other ; for 
the fact does not appear to be introduced for the sake 
of the hyperbole, but the hyperbole to pass because 
' c. viii. ' vii. 84. ' vii. 225. 

70 A Treatise Sect. 

fathered by the fact. For, as I am never tired of 
sajnng, every bold experiment in language finds a solvent 
and a specific in deeds and passions which approach 
frenzy. So, in Comedy, utterances which approach 
the incredible pass for true because of the ludicrous : — 

He had a field no bigger than the sheet 
Which holds a Spartan letter.' 

For laughter too is a passion, a passion which lies in 
pleasure. There is an hyperbole on the side of excess, 
and also one on the side of defect: the common point 
is a straining of the truth. And, in a manner of 
speaking, satire is an exaggeratjan^namdy of pettiness. 


THE fifth of the factors which we mentioned at the 
outset, as contnbuting to Sublimity, still remains 
to be considered, my excellent friend ; compositipn. in 
words, or the precise manner of arran^ng them. I have 
already published two treatises on this subject, in 
which I have rendered full account of such theoretical 
views as I could form ; and need, therefore, only add, 
as necessary for our present purpose, that melody is 
not only an instrument natural to man^ which produces 
persuasion and pleasure ; it is a marvellous instriuneoit, 
which produces passion, yet leaves him free. Does 

' The brevity of Spartan letters may be illustrated by the 
famous dispatch reporting the disaster of Cyzicus (410 B.C.): 
' Honour is lost : Mindarus is gone : the men starve : we know not 
what to do.' 

XXXIX Concerning Sublimity 71 

not the flute implant within the hearers certain passions, 
and place them out of their senses, full of wild revelry ? 
Does it not set a certain rhythmical step, and force 
them to keep step with it, and to conform themselves 
to the air, though a man have ' no music in him ' ? ' 
Do not the notes of the harp, which in themselves 
signify nothing, yet by the interchange of sounds, the 
mutual accompaniment, the mingled harmony, cast upon 
us a spell, which is, you well know, often marvellous ; 
although these are but images and bastard copies of 
persuasion, not genuine forces operative upon human 
nature ? And then are we not to think that com- 
position — ^being as it is, a special melody of words, 
words whi^h are in man by nature and ^vhich reach 
his very soul, and not his ears, alone; stirring, as it 
does, manifold ideas of words, thoughts, actions, beauty, 
tunefulness, all of them things bom and bred within us ; 
cairyiig. moreover, by the very commixture and multi- 
plicity of its own sounds, the passion which is present 
to the speaker into the souls of the bystanders, and 
bringing them into partnership with" hfinself ; building 
phrase on phrase and so shaping whole passages of 
gTeatness— ^t "CompositionT^ say7 must by all these 
means at once soo^gjjs as we hear and also dispose to 
stateliness, and high mood, and sublimity, and ^very- 
thingwhich it contains with itself, in eachand every 
direction gaining the mastery over minds ? Although it 
is mere folly to raise problems about things which are so 
fully admitted, for experience is proof sufficient, I am 
' Quoted from the Sthmehoea, a lost play of Euripides. 

72 -A Treatise Sect. XL 

sure that you will think that a sublime thought, and 
marvellous indeed it is, which Demosthenes applied to 
his decree : — ' This decree made the danger, which 
then encompassed the city, to pass away like a vapour '.' 
But the harmony of the thought, no less than the 
thought itself, has given it voice. For the whole ex- 
pression rests upon the dactylic rhythms^the most noble 
and productive of grandeur, which make the structure 
of heroic metre the noblest known to us. Take any 
word out of its own place, and transfer it where you 
will : — ' This proposal, like a vapour, made the danger 
of that day to pass away ' ; or, again, cut off one 
syllable only : — ' made it to pass like vapour ' ; and you 
will learn how closely the rhythm echoes the sublimity. 
For the actual phrase ' like a vapour ' moves with the 
first rhythm long, if measured by four times.^ Cut out 
the one syllable, you have 'as vapour', the curtailment 
mutilates the grandeur ; as, on the other hand, if you 
lengthen it out, ' made to pass away like to a vapour ', 
,the sense is the same, but not the effect on the ear, 
because by the length of the times at the end of the 
phrase, its sheer sublimity is broken up and unstrung. 


1ANGUAGE is made .grand in the highest 
_> "degree by that which corresponds to the 
collocation of limbs in the body, of which no one, if 

' Dt Corona, l88. 

'i.e. equivalent to four short syllables. The difficult metrical 
questions raised in the passage are discussed by Dr. Verrall (^Class. 
Rev. xix. p. 354). 

Sect. XL Concerning Sublimity 73 

cut off from another, has anything noticeable in itself, 
yet all in combination produce a perfect structure. So 
great passages, when separate and scattered in diifeient 
parts, scatter also the sublimity ; but if they are formed 
by partnership into a body, and also enclosed by the 
bond of rhythm, the limits wfich encircle them give 
them new voice ; one might put it fliat grand effects 
within a period contribute to a common fund of 
grandeur. However it has been already shown that 
many prose writers and poets of no natural sublimity, 
possibly themselves altogether wanting in grandeur, and 
using in general common and popular words, such as 
contribute nothing remarkable, have yet, by mere arrange- 
ment and adjustment, attained a real dignity and dis- 
tinction of style, in which no pettiness is apparent; so, 
amongst many others, Philistus, Aristophanes in certain 
passages, Euripides in most. After the murder of his 
children Hercules cries : — 

I am full fraught with ills — no stowing more.' 
The phrase is quite popular, but has become sublime 
because the handling of the words conforms to the 
subject. If you place the wbrdFln"otEer combinations, 
you wTll see clearly that Euripides is a poet of com- 
position rather than of intellect. When Dirce is being 
Jragged~a'way"byThe bull : — 

Where'er it chanced. 
Rolling around he with him ever drew 
Wife, oak-tree, rock, in constant interchange.'' 

• Hercules Furens, 1245, tr. R. Browning. 
' From the Aniiope, a lost play. 

74 -^ Treatise Sect. XL 

The conception in itself is a noble one, but has become 
more forcible from the rhythm not being hurried, nor 
borne along as on rollers ; the words are solidly 
attached to one another, and checks caused by the 
syllabic quantities, which result in stability and grandeur. 


THERE is nothing which introduces pettiness 
into sublime passages so much as a broEen~and 
esccited rhythm, as pyrrhics, trochees, and dichorees, 
which fall into a thorough dancing measure. For in 
pn5se~complSEe" rhythm appears dainty and trivial, and 
entirely lacks passion, because the sameness makes it 
superficial. The worst point of all about this is, that, 
as ballad-music draws away the hearers perforce from 
the subject to itself, so prose which is made over- 
rhythmical does not give the hearers the effect of the 
prose but that of the rhythm ; so that in some cases, 
knowing beforehand the endings as they become due, 
people actually beat time with the speakers, and get 
before them, and render the movement too soon, as 
though in a dance. Equally devoid of grandeur are 
^passages which lie too close, cut up into scraps and 
' minute syllables, and bound together by clamps between 
piece and piece in the way of socket and insertion.' 

' Here again (as on p. a6) the terms of masonry are obscure, 
though the general drift of the simile is apparent. 

Sect.XLII Concerning Sublimity 7S 


ANOTHER means of lowering sublimity is ex- 
X\. cessive conciseness of expression ; a grand 
phrase is inaiineS when it is gathered into too short 
a compass. I must be understood to refer not to 
mere undue compression, but to what is absolutely 
small and comminuted ' : contraction stunts the sense, 
a short cut goes straight. In the other direction it is 
clear that what is spun out is lifeless, all ' which 
conjures up unseasonable length '.' 


PETTINESS of words, again, is strangely potent in 
making fine passages mean. Thus in Herodotus 
the storm' has been finely described with great spirit, 
so far as the ideas go, but certain words are included 
which are surely too ignoble for the subject; this in 
particular, 'when the sea boiled', the word 'boiled' 
greatly spoils the sublimity, being so poor in sound ; 
then he has ' the wind flagged ', and again ' Those who 
were about the wreck and clutching it met an un- 
welcome end ', ' flagged ' is an undignified vulgarism, 
and ' unwelcome ' is an inadequate word for such a 
disaster. So also Theopompus*, in a brilliant and 
elaborate account of the descent of the Persian army 

' Perhaps this should read ' not to proper compression ' (if 
a negative be omitted in the original). 
' Apparently a poetical quotation, 
' vii. 1 88. • See .p. 56. 

7<J A Treatise Sect.XLIII 

upon Egypt, by a few paltry words has spoilt the 
whole passage: — 'For what city of Asia, or what 
tribe, did not send envoys to the King? What 
beautiful or costly thing which earth grows, or art 
produces, was not brought as a gift to him? Were 
there not many and costly coverlets and cloaks, purple, 
and variegated, and white pieces, and many tents of 
gold, furnished with all things serviceable ; many 
costly robes and couches ? There were also vessels of 
wrought gold and silver, drinking cups and bowls, of 
which you might have seen some crusted with precious 
stones, others worked with elaborate and costly art : 
besides these were untold quantities of arms, some 
Greek, some barbarian, beasts of burden in exceedingly 
great numbers, and victims fatted for slaughter, many 
bushels of spices, many sacks and bags and sheets of 
papyrus and all other commodities; and so many 
pickled carcases of all sorts of animals, that the size of 
the heaps made those who approached from a distance 
think that they were mounds and hillocks as they 
Jostled one another '. He runs off from the loftier to 
the more humble details, whereas he ought to have 
made his description rise in the other direction. With 
his marvellous account of the whole provision he has 
mixed up his bags and spices, and has drawn to the 
imagination — a cook-shop ! Suppose one had really 
placed among those things of show, in the middle of 
the gold and the gem-crusted cups and the silver 
vessels, common bags and sacks, the effect to the eye 
would have been unseemly ; so in a description each of 

Sect. XLIII Concerning Sublimity 77 

such words placed there out of season is ^n ugliness 
and, so to say, a blot where it stands. It was open 
to him to go through all in broad outline : as he has 
told us of heaps taken to be hillocks, so he might have 
given us all the rest of the . pageant, camels, a 
multitude of beasts of burden carrying all supplies for 
luxury and the enjoyment of the table, or he might 
have specified heaps of every sort of grain and of all 
that is best for confectionery and daintiness ; or, if he 
meant, at all costs, to put the whole down in an inclusive 
list, he might have said ' all the dainties known to 
victuallers and confectioners ' '. For we ought not in , 
sublime passages to stoop to mean and discredited! 
terms unless we are compelled by some strong necessity ; ! 
but it would be proper even in words to keep to those ' 
which sound worthy of the subject, and to copy 
Nature who fashioned man ; for she did not place our 
less honourable parts in front, nor the purgings of all 
gross matter, but hid them away so far as she could, 
and, as Xenophon tells us ", removed the channels of 
such things to as great a distance as possible, nowhere 
disfiguring the beauty of the whole animal. But there 
is no present need to enumerate by their kinds the 
means of producing pettiness ; when we have once 
shown what things make writings noble and sublime, 
it is clear that their opposites will make them in most 
cases low and uncouth. 

' * The critic complains of bathos, but the passage reads like the 
intentional bathos of satire.'^G. Murray, Hist, of Ancient Greek 
Literature, p. 390. 

' Memorabilia, i. 4. 6. 

78 A Treatise Sect.XLIV 


ONE point remains, which in view of your dili- 
gence in learning, I shall not hesitate to add. 
This is to give a clear answer to a question lately put 
to me by one of our philosophers: 'I wonder', he 
said, ' as assuredly do many others, how it is that in 
our age we have men whose genius is persuasive and 
statesman-like in the extreme, keen and versatile ; but 
minds of a high order of sublimity and greatness are no 
longer produced, or quite exceptionally, such is the 
world-wide barrenness of literature that now pervades our 
life. Are we indeed ', he went on, ' to believe the 
common voice*, That democracy is a good nurse of all 
that is great ; that with free government nearly all power- 
ful orators attained their prime, and died with it ? For 
Freedom, they say, has the power of breeding noble 
spirits ; it gives them hopes, and passes hand in hand 
with them through their eager mutual strife and their 
ambition to reach the first prizes. Further, because 
of the prizes offered to competition in commonwealths, 
the intellectual gifts of acators,.are^kept in exercise and 
whetted by use ; the rub of poli&cs, irTTnay use~3ie 
word, kindles them to fire ; they shine, as shine they must, 
with the light of public freedom. But we in our day ', 
he went on, ' seem to be from our childhood scholars 
of a dutiful slavery ; in its customs and practices we 

' Compare Tacitus, DicUogut, 40. ' But the great and memor- 
able eloquence of which men tell is the foster child of license, which 
foolt used to call liberty,' (Materaus, the poet, is summing up.) 

Sect. XLIV Concerning Sublimity 79 

are enwrapped and swathed from the very infancy of our 
thoughts, never tasting that fairest and most abundant 
fount of eloquence, I mean Freedom ; ^yherefore we 
turn out.nothing but flatterers of j)ortentous growth.'. 
Other faculties, he asserted, might be the portion of 
mere household servants, but no slave becomes an 
orator; for instantly there surges up the helplessness 
to speak out, there is the guard on the lips enforced by 
the cudgel of habitude '. As Homer has it : — 

Half that man's virtue doth Zeus take away. 
Whom he surrenders to the servile day.' ^ 

' As then ', he went on, ' if what I hear is to be be- 
lieved, the cages in which the Pygmies, also called 
dwarfs ', are reared, not only hinder the growth of 
those who are shut up in them, but actually shrivel 
them because of the bonds lying about their bodies, so 
one might show that all slavery, though it be never so 
dutiful, is a cage of the soul and a public prison.' 
Here _I_reJ2ined : 'Sir,' I said, 'it is easy, and it is 
man's special habit,_ always to find fault with things 
present : but consider whether it may not be that what 
spoils noble natures is, not the peace of the universal 
world, but much rather this war which masters our 
desires, and to which no bounds are set, aye, and more 

* The rare verb used here in the original is found in a passage 
of the Jewish writer Philo (de tmul, i, p. 387 A), also of slaves. 

' Od. xvii. 322. 

' There was a fashion of keeping dwarfs at Rome under the 
early emperors. Augustus himself, who abhorred freaks and mon- 
strosities, took pleasure in them (Suetonius, Life of Augustus, 
c. 83). 

8o A Treatise Sect. XL IV 

than that, these passions which keep our life a prisoner 
and make spoil of it altogether ? The love of money, 
which cannot be satisfied and is a disease wTth'u's'all, 
and the love of pleasure both lead us into slavery, or 
rather, as oneraight put it,'thrust our lives and ourselves 
down into the depths : the love of money, a disease 
which makes us little, the love of pleasure, which is 
utterly ignoble. I try to reckon it up, but I cannot 
discover how it is possible that we who so greatly 
honour boundless wealth, who, to speak more truly, 
make it a god, can fail to receive into our souls the 
kindred evils which enter with it. There follows on 
unmeasured and unchecked wealth, bound to it and 
keeping step for step, as they say, costliness of living ; 
which, when wealth opens the way into cities and 
houses, enters and settles therein. When these evils 
have passed much time in our lives, they build nests, 
the wise tell us, and soon proceed to breed and 
engender boasting, and vapouring, and luxury ; no 
spurious brood, but all too truly their own. For this 
must perforce be so ; men will no longer look up, nor 
otherwise take any account of good reputation ; little 
by little the ruin of their whole life is effected ; all 
greatness of soul dwindles" and withers, and ceases to 
be emulated, while men admire their own mortal parts, 
and neglect to improve the immortal. A judge bribed 
for his verdict could never be a free and sound judge 
of things just and good, for to the corrupted judge the 
side which he is to take must needs appear good and 
just. Even so, where bribes already rule our whole 

Sect. XL IV Concerning Sublimity 8i 

lives, and the hunt for other men's deaths, and the 
lying in wait for their wills, and where we purchase 
with our soul gain from wherever it comes, led captive 
each by his own luxury, do we really expect, amidst 
this ruin and undoing of our life, that any is yet left 
a free and uncorrupted judge of great things and things 
which reach to eternity ; and that we are not downright 
bribed by qur_ desire JxtiettecoiHselses.-? Fo r such m en 
as we are, it may possibly be better to be governed than 
to be free; since greed and grasping, if let loose together 
against our neighbours, as beasts out of a den, would 
soon deluge the world with evils.' I gave the general 
explanation that what eats up our modem characters is 
the indolence in which, with few exceptions^ we all now 
live, never working or undertaking work save for the 
sake of praise or of pleasure, instead of that assistance 
to others which is a thing worthy of emulation and of 

' Best leave such things to take their chance ' ', and 
pass we to the next topic ; this was to be the passions, 
about which I promised beforehand to write in a 
separate paper, inasmuch as they cover a side of the 
general subject of speech, and of sublimity in particular. 

' From Euripides, Electro, 379. 


Specimen Passages translated from 
Greek Writers of the legman Empire 
on Literary Criticism 


Dionysius of Halicarnassus (about 78-7 B.C.), a learned writer 
on history and criticism. Under the latter head come the Thru 
Literary Leilers, dealing with Demosthenes, Plato, and Thucydides, 
»Dd Notes on the Ancient Orators (the former work translated and 
edited by Professor Rhys Roberts), and the treatise On Composition, 
from which our extract is taken. The style is pure and the criticism 
marked by good judgement and taste, and of real value. There 
are many phrases which he uses in common with the writer of the 
Treatise on the Sublime ; but the difference in point of view may 
be seen in the differing conclusions which they respectively illustrate 
by the two Odes of Sappho which we owe to them. On the passage 
here selected, see Jebb's Attic Orators, ii. 56-8. 


THE smooth and florid mode of composition, 
which I placed second in order, has the following 
characteristics : — It does not seek to be seen in clear 
light in its every word, nor always to move on a broad 
safe platform, nor to have long intervals between words ; 
this slow balanced procedure is not at all to its taste, it 
asks for a vocabulary which is in motion and activity, 
G 2 

84 appendix I 

where half the words lean upon the other half, and 
all find steadiness in the mutual support, like flowing 
streams which run without a tremor. It requires that its 
several members be included and interwoven in one 
another, and produce, so far as that is possible, a visible 
effect. This is done by accurate junctures, admitting 
no perceptible interval between the words ; upon this 
side it resembles fine-woven stuffs, or paintings wherein 
the lights melt into the shadows. It would have all its 
words euphonious and smooth, tender and maidenish. 
Rough strident syllables are its special aversion ; it is 
always shy of what is bold and hazardous. 

It not only desires that the words be fitly joined 
with words and fitted, but also that clauses be woven in 
with clauses, and that all take final form in a period ; it 
must have clauses of a length neither longer nor shorter 
than what is moderate, and a period shorter than a 
man's completed breath: it could not endure to turn out 
a passage without periods, or a period without clauses, 
or a clause without symmetry. Of rhythms it employs, 
not the longest, but those which are moderate or 
comparatively short ; the ends of its periods must be 
rhythmical and firm, as though by square and level. 
In the joinings of periods and of words it takes two 
different rules ; words it makes glide into one, periods 
it forces apart, they must present a clear view all 
round. It will have no figures of the most old- 
fashioned kind, none to which any solemnity attaches, 
or ponderousness, or the dust of ages ; it mostly loves 
to use those which are dainty and soft^in which there 

DionyAus of Halicarnasms %f 

is so much theatrical beguilement. To use plainer words, 
this style is on most important points the opposite of 
that mentioned before *, but of these points I need not 
speak again. 

The next thing would naturally be to enumerate 
those who have reached the first place in it. Of Epic 
poets, I think myself that Hesiod most fully developed 
its character ; of lyric poets Sappho, and, next to her, 
Anacreon and Simonides ; of tragic poets Euripides 
alone; of historians, no one in perfect detail, but 
Ephorus and Theopompus better than the majority ; 
of orators Isocrates. I will add the following 
specimens of the cadence, selecting Sappho for the 
poets, and Isocrates for the orators : I will begin with 
the lyricist : — 

Immortal Venus, throned above 
In radiant beauty, child of Jove, 
O skilled in every art of love 

And artful snare; 
Dread power, to whom I bend the knee, 
Release my soul and set it free 
From bonds of piercing agony 

And gloomy care. 
Yet come thyself, if e'er, benign 
Thy listening ears thou didst incline 
To my rude lay, the starry shrine 

Of Jove's court leaving. 
In chariot yoked with coursers fair, 
Thine own immortal birds that bear 
Thee swift to earth, the middle air 

With bright wings cleaving. 

' i. e. the Austere, 

Sd appendix 1 

Soon they were sped — and thou, most blest, 
In thine own smiles ambrosial dressed. 
Didst ask what griefs my mind oppressed — 

What meant my song — 
What end my frenzied thoughts pursue 
For what loved youth I spread anew 
My amorous nets — ' Who Sappho, who 

Hath done thee wrong ? 
What though he fly, he'll soon return — 
Still press thy gifts, though now he spurn ; 
Heed not his coldness — soon he'll bum. 

E'en though thou chide.' 
— And saidst thou thus, dread goddess ? Oh, 
Come then once more to ease my woe ; 
Grant all, and thy great self bestow, 

My shield and guide ! * 

Here the beauty and grace of the language lies in 
the connexion of the words and the smoothness of the 
junctures. For the words lie by the side of one 
another, and are woven into one, as though there were 
in each case a natural affinity or a marriage between the 
letters. Vowels are fitted on to mutes and semi- 
vowels through nearly the entire Ode, these in a leading 
place, those in a subordinate. Of concurrences of semi- 
vowels with semi-vowels, or of vowels with vowels, to 
trouble the smooth waters of the cadences, there are 
very few. I have looked carefully through the whole 
Ode ; and among all that number of nouns, verbs, and 
other parts of speech, I find only five cases, or possibly 
six, of the combination of semi-vowels not naturally 

' Translated by J. Herman Merivale, 1833. The original is in 
the same metre, the Sapphic, as the Ode quoted in sect, 3 of 
the Treatise. 

Dionysius of Halicarnassus 87 

suited to be commingled, and even these do not 
roughen the flow of language in any great degree. 

[De Compos'ttione Verborum, c. xxiii.] 


Plutarch (about 40-120 a.d.), a native of Cbaeroneia ia 
Boeotia, where, in later life, he held a priesthood : he spent many 
years in Rome, and visited other parts of Italy. Besides his 
great work, the Parallel Lives of Greeks and Romans, written in 
his later years, he is the author of many miscellaneous essays on 
historical, ethical, and literary subjects, which bear the general 
title of Moralia. All his writings are distinguished by strong 
good sense, right feeling, amiability and a love of anecdote : his 
style is cumbrous, but has much individuality. The Treatise ftom 
which our extract is taken deals with the question : How a young 
man should be introduced to Poetry in preparation for Moral 
Philosophy. Plutarch may be read in Amyot's French translation, 
or in English in Philemon Holland's. 

Still more carefully will we impress upon him, 
as soon as we introduce him to poems, a conception 
of poetry as an art of imitation, in its scope corre- 
sponding to painting. Do not let his lesson stop at the 
old jingle, that Poetry is Painting which speaks, and 
Painting is Poetry which is mute ; let us teach him 
further that, when we see a lizard painted, or an ape, 
or the face of a Thersites, we enjoy and admire it 
because it is like, not because it is beautiful. In itself 
the ugly can never become beautiful j but we praise 
imitation if it effects a likeness, whether the subject 
be bad or good. On the other hand, if it present 
a beautiful copy of an ugly form, it has failed to render 

88 jippendix I 

a proper likeness. There are artists who paint un- 
natural actions, as Timomachus painted Medea slaying 
her children, and Theon Orestes slaying his mother, 
and Parrhasius Ulysses feigning madness. Our pupil 
should be made familiar with all these ; we must teach 
him that we do not praise the action, of which the 
imitation is before him, but the art which has imitated 
the action properly : that accordingly, when Poetry also 
tells us, in imitative form, of bad actions and vicious 
feelings and characters, he is not to accept as true 
what is admired and successful therein, nor yet to 
approve it as beautiful, but only to prdse it in so far 
as it is suitable and proper to the given person. Just 
as when we heair the squealing of a pig, and the dull 
noise of a windlass, and the whistling of winds, and 
the roar of the sea, we are troubled and disgusted, but 
if any one imitate these naturally, as Parmeno used to 
give the sow, and Theodoras the windlass, we enjoy 
it. Again, we shun a man stricken by sickness and 
full of sores, as being a disagreeable spectacle ; but we 
look with pleasure at the Philoctetes of Aristophon, 
and the Jocasta of Silanion, represented like wasted 
and dying men. Just so, when a young man reads 
what Thersites the buffoon, or a Sisyphus, or 
a Batrachus, has been exhibited saying or doing, let 
him be taught to praise the art and the power which 
imitated such things, but as for the disposition and the 
conduct described, to repudiate and think meanly of 
them. It is one thing to imitate a beautiful object, 
and another to imitate an object beautifully. For 

Plutarch 8 9 

' beautifully ' means fitly, suitably, but to the ugly the 
only fit and suitable things are the ugly. Why, the 
shoes of Demodocus the cripple, which he lost, and 
then prayed that they might fit the feet of the thief 
well, were shabby affairs, but they fitted him. 
The lines : — 

If thou must sin at all, take courage man, 
Sin where a kingdom is the prize, 
an^— [Eur. Phoen. 245.] 

Make thou thy credit angel-white, thy deeds 
As dark as desperation — both for gain ! 
a„d_ ylnon. (tr. E. M.) 

To take or not to take? a talent — humph — 
A talent I can pass, yet live — and sleep, 
As sleep the just — no, never shall they say 
Down there, 'he lost his soul and won a groat.' 

are so many vicious lies, but good enough for Eteocles 
and Ixion and a hoary artist in sixty per cent. 

\De Audiendis Poetis, c. iii.] 


Dion Chrysostom (about 50-117 *■!>.), a native of Prusa in 
Bithynia — a famous rhetorician and sophist ; in philosophy an 
eclectic, with a strong attraction to Stoic and Platonic views. 
His Orations, really Essays on literary and philosophical subjects, 
have charm of thought and purity of style, with little severity 
or seriousness of aim. The passage translated is an interesting 
comparison of the methods of Poetry and Sculpture, put into the 
mouth of Phidias, whose art is supposed to be put upon its defence. 


To all this Phidias might perhaps reply, being no 

man without a tongue, a citizen of no city without 

90 Appendix 1 

a tongue, and moreover a friend and intimate of 
Pericles : — 

' Men of Greece, the issue is the greatest which has 
ever been tried ; for it is not about power or office in 
a single city, nor about numbers of navy or of army, 
and their right or wrong administration, that I am put 
upon my defence this day; but about the God who 
rules all, and his likeness, whether it has been wrought 
handsomely and with truth to life, wanting nothing of 
the best rendering which man can give of the divine, 
or whether it be unworthy and unfit. But consider 
that I was not the first to be the expounder and 
teacher of truth among you. For I. was not bom in the 
early days when Greece had still no clear and steady 
principles about these things ; she was already in a sort 
elderly, and had convictions about the gods, which she 
held with vehemence. Of the works of stone-cutters 
and masons which are older than my own handiwork, 
harmonious enough unless as to accuracy of finish, 
I have nothing to say. But I found your opinions old 
and immovable, to which no opposition was possible, 
and I found other artists in divine things, much older 
than myself, and claiming to be much wiser, I mean 
the poets ; able, they said, to lead us by their poetry 
to full knowledge of the divine, whereas our works 
have only just this passable resemblance. For divine 
appearances, those of the sun and moon, and all the 
heaven, and the stars, are most wonderful in their own 
selves, but their imitation is simple and artless, if a 
man were to try to copy the phases of the moon or 

Dion Chrysostom 91 

the disk of the sun. Again, the objects themselves 
are full of character and of thought, in their likenesses 
nothing of the sort is exhibited. Accordingly the 
Greeks of old took this view. For mind and wisdom, 
as they are in themselves, no sculptor or painter will 
ever be able to represent, they are absolutely unable 
to see such things or to search them out. But we do 
not guess at that wherein this originates, we know it, 
and therefore we have recourse to it, attaching a human 
body to a god, as a vessel which contains wisdom and 
reason ; we have no pattern and despair of getting one, 
so we seek to exhibit under a visible and intelligible 
form that which is beyond our intelligence and in- 
visible ; and we use the aid of a symbol, more 
effectually than some barbarians, who, they tell us, 
liken the divine to animals upon trifling and absurd 
pretexts. He who most greatly excels in a sense of 
beauty, dignity, and magnificence should be the best 
artificer by far of images of the gods. Nor can it be 
said that it were .better that no shrine, no likeness of 
a god should be exhibited among men, as though we 
ought to gaze only on the heavenly things. All those 
heavenly things are honoured by a sensible man, who 
deems them to be blessed gods, beholding them from 
afar. But because of our feeling towards what is 
divine, ail men have a strong desire to have the deity 
near them, to honour and to care for ; approaching, and 
addressing themselves to it with conviction, burning 
incense, and placing crowns. For just as young 
children when torn from father and mother feel a 

92 Appendix I 

strange yearning and desire, and often stretch out their 
hands in dreams to those who are not there, so also 
do men to gods ; they rightly love them because of 
benevolence and kinship, and are eager to do 
anything to follow and be with them. Accordingly 
many barbarians, in the poverty and meagreness of their 
art, call hills, and motionless trees, and unmarked 
stones by the name of gods, though in no way nearer to 
gods than is their form. If I am to be blamed about 
the figure, you cannot be too prompt in directing your 
wrath against Homer first ; he not only imitated the 
form in a manner most closely resembling art, mention- 
ing the hair of the god, and his beard too, at the very 
beginning of the poem, when he speaks of Thetis 
entreating for the honour of her son ; but, besides all 
this, he ascribes to the gods meetings, deliberations, 
harangues, how they came from Ida and arrived at 
Olympus and heaven, their sleeping, their drinking, 
their courting, with great loftiness no doubt, and 
ornament of verse, yet keeping closely always to 
a mortal likeness. Yes, and when he dared to compare 
Agamemnon to the god in his most sovereign attri- 
butes : — 

' In eyes and head like thunder-loving Zeus '. 

But the work of my handicraft no man, no lunatic, 
could ever compare to mortal man, if fairly examined 
in view of beauty or size. So it comes to this, that if 
I do not appear to you a far better and wiser poet than 
Homer, whom you have decided to be a peer of the 

Dion Chrysostom 93 

gods in wisdom, I am ready to undergo any penalty 
you choose. I am speaking with the powers of my 
own art in view. For poetry is a copious undertaking, 
resourceful and independent ; it wants a tongue to help 
it and a supply of words, and then it can, of its own 
self, express all the wishes of the soul : whatever it be 
which its thought perceives, figure or fact, passion or 
grandeur, it can never be at fault for a speaking voice 
to announce all this very distinctly. 

' Man's tongue wags lightly, and his words o'erflow ', 
— these are Homer's own words — 
'Full swift: and wide their range to move in to and fro'. 
For the human race is likely to go short of everything 
sooner than of speech and language ; of this alone it has 
laid up marvellous great wealth. Nothing reaches the 
senses, which it has left unspoken or unstamped; down 
goes upon the conception the clear seal of a word, often 
several words for one thing ; speak any one of them, 
and you convey a thought scarcely less powerful than the 
reality. So man has very great power and resource in 
language to express what occurs to him. But the art 
of the poets is very wilful and irresponsible, most of all 
that of Homer, who is bolder than they all ; he did not 
choose one type of language, but mixed up all the 
Hellenic language, long distinct in its parts, Dorian 
and Ionian, and Athenian too, he mixed them all up 
into one as dyers mix colours, only more freely; he did 
not stop at his own generation, but went back to ances- 
tors ; had a word dropped out, he was sure to pick it 

94 appendix I 

up, like an old coin out of an uncldmed treasure-house, 
all for love of words ; and again many barbarian terms, 
sparing no single word which seemed to have in it 
enjoyment or intensity ; and, besides all these, he drew 
in metaphors, not only neighbour-words or those lying 
at hand, but the very most remote, to charm his hearer, 
and astonish and bewitch him. Even these he did not 
allow to keep their own ground, but lengthened here, 
and contracted there, and altered all round ; and at last 
came out as a maker not of verses only, but also of 
terms, speaking out of his inner self, sometimes just 
inventing names for things, sometimes giving a new 
sense to standard words, as if he were impressing upon 
a seal a clear and yet more distinct seal, leaving no sound 
alone, but, in a word, imitating sounds of river and wood, 
of wind, and fire, and sea.' 

\0r. xii, Olympicui.^ 


Lucian (about 120-200 a.d.), of Samosata, the capital of 
CommagenS. A brilliant and witty writer, who has left works on 
a great variety of subjects. His style is excellent, and is, generally 
speaking, a pure Attic. The treatise on the question ' How 
History should be written,' shows, as do many of his writings, 
much discrimination and literary feeling. 


There is a story of a curious epidemic at Abdera, 

just after the accession of King Lysimachus. It began 

' The passage which follows is extracted, by the kind permission 
of the translators, irom the translation of Lucian by H. W, Fowler 
and F. O. Fowler (Clarendon Press, 4 vols., 1905). 

Lucian 9 f 

with the whole population's exhibiting feverish symptoms, 
strongly marked and uninterraittent from the very first 
attack. About the seventh day, the fever was relieved, 
in some cases by a violent flow of blood from the nose, 
in others by perspiration not less violent. The mental 
effects, however, were most ridiculous ; they were all 
stage-struck, mouthing blank verse and ranting at the 
top of their voices. Their favourite recitation was the 
Andromeda of Euripides ; one after another would go 
through the great speech of Perseus ; the whole place 
was full of pale ghosts, who were our seventh-day 
tragedians vociferating, 

O Love, who lord'st it over Gods and men, 

and the rest of it. This continued for some time, till 
the coming of winter put an end to their madness with 
a sharp frost. I find the explanation of the form it 
took in this fact : Archelaus was then the great tragic 
actor, and in the middle of the summer, during some 
very hot weather, he had played the Andromeda there ; 
most of them took the fever in the theatre, and con- 
valescence was followed by a relapse — into tragedy, the 
Andromeda haunting their memories, and Perseus hover- 
ing, Gorgon's head in hand, before the mind's eye. 

Well, to compare like with like, the majority of our 
educated class is now suffering from an Abderite 
epidemic. They are not stage-struck, indeed; that 
would have been a minor infatuation — to be possessed 
with other people's verses, not bad ones either 5 no ; 
but from the beginning of the present excitements — the 

9<J appendix I 

barbarian war, the Annenian disaster, the succession of 
victories — you cannot find a man but is writing history; 
nay, every one you meet is a Thucydides, a Herodotus, 
a Xenophon. The old saying must be true, and war 
be the father of all things, seeing what a litter of 
historians it has now teemed forth at a birth. 

Such sights and sounds, my Fhilo, brought into my 
head that old anecdote about the Sinopean. A report 
that Philip was marching on the town had thrown all 
Corinth into a bustle ; one was furbishing his arms, 
another wheeling stones, a third patching the wall, a 
fourth strengthening a battlement, every one making 
himself useful somehow or other. Diogenes having 
nothing to do — of course no one thought of giving htm 
a job — was moved by the sight to gird up his philosopher's 
cloak and begin rolling his tub-dwelling energetically up 
and down the Craneum ; an acquaintance asked, and 
got, the explanation : ' I do not want to be thought die 
only idler in such a busy multitude ; I am rolling my 
tub to be like the rest.' 

I too am reluctant to be the only dumb man at so 
vociferous a season ; I do not like walking across the 
stage, like a 'super,' in gaping silence ; so I decided to 
roll my cask as best I could. I do not intend to write 
a history, or attempt actual narrative ; I am not coura- 
geous enough for that; have no apprehensions on my 
account ; I realize the danger of rolling the thing over 
the rocks, especially if it is only a poor little jar of 
brittle earthenware like mine; I should very soon 
knock against some pebble and find myself picking up 

Lucian 97 

the pieces. Come, I will tell you my idea for campaign- 
ing in safety, and keeping well out of range. 

Give a wide berth to all that foam and spray, 

and to the anxieties which vex the historian — that I 
shall be wise enough to do ; but I propose to give a 
little advice, and lay down a few principles for the 
benefit of those who do venture. I shall have a share 
in their building, if not in the dedicatory inscription ; my 
finger-tips will at least have touched their wet mortar. 

However, most of them see no need for advice here; 
there might as well be an art of talking, seeing, or eating i 
history-writing is perfectly easy, comes natural, is a uni- 
versal gift ; all that is necessary is the faculty of translating 
your thoughts into words. But the truth is — you know 
it without my telling, old friend — , it is not a task to be 
lightly undertaken, or carried through without effort; 
no, it needs as much care as any sort of composition 
whatever, if one means to create * a possession for ever,' 
as Thucydides calls it. Well, I know I shall not get 
a hearing from many of them, and some will be seriously 
offended — especially any who have finished and produced 
their work; in cases where its first reception was favour- 
able, it would be folly to expect the authors to recast or 
correct; has it not the stamp of finality? is it not almost 
a State document ? Yet even they may profit by my 
words ; we are not likely to be attacked again ; we 
have disposed of all our enemies ; but there might be 
a Celto-Gothic or an Indo-Bactrian war ; then our 
friends' composition might be improved by the applica- 

9 8 appendix I 

tion of my measuring-rod — always supposing that they 
recognize its correctness; failing that, let them do their 
own mensuration with the old foot-rule ; the doctor will 
not particularly mind, though all Abdera insists on 
spouting the Andromeda. 

Advice has two provinces — one of choice, the other 
of avoidance; let us first decide what the historian is to 
avoid — of what faults he must purge himself — , and 
then proceed to the measures he must take for putting 
himself on the straight high road. This will include 
the manner of his beginning, the order in which he 
should marshal his facts, the questions of proportion, of 
discreet silence, of full or cursory narration, of comment 
and connexion. Of all that, however, later on ; for 
the present we deal with the vices to which bad writers 
are liable. As to those faults of diction, construction, 
meaning, and general amateurishness, which are common 
to every kind of composition, to discuss them is neither 
compatible with my space nor relevant to my purpose. 

But there are mistakes peculiar to history; your own 
observation will show you just those which a constant 
attendance at authors' readings has impressed on me ; 
you have only to keep your ears open at every oppor- 
tunity. It will be convenient, however, to refer by the 
way to a few illustrations in recent histories. Here is 
a serious fault to begin with. It is the fashion to 
neglect the examination of facts, and give the space 
gained to eulogies of generals and commanders ; those 
of their own side they exalt to the skies, the other side 
they disparage intemperately. They forget that between 

Lucian ^^ 

history and panegyric there is a great galf fixed, barring 
communication; in musical phrase, the two things are 
a couple of octaves apart. The panegyrist has only 
one concern — to commend and gratify his living theme 
some way or other ; if misrepresentation will serve his 
purpose, he has no objection to that. History, on the 
other hand, abhors the intrusion of any least scruple of 
falsehood ; it is like the windpipe, which the doctors 
tell us will not tolerate a morsel of stray food. 

Another thing these gentlemen seem not to know is 
that poetry and history offer different wares, and have 
their separate rules. Poetry enjoys unrestricted freedom ; 
it has but one law — the poet's fancy. He is inspired 
and possessed by the Muses ; if he chooses to horse 
his car with winged steeds, or set others a-galloping 
over the sea, or standing com, none challenges his right; 
his Zeus, with a single cord, may haul up earth and sea, 
and hold them dangling together — there is no fear the 
cord may break, the load come tumbling down and be 
smashed to atoms. In a complimentary picture of 
Agamemnon, there is nothing against his having Zeus's 
head and eyes, his brother Posidon's chest, Ares's belt 
— in fact, the son of Atreus and Aerope will naturally 
be an epitome of all Divinity; Zeus or Posidon or Ares 
could not singly or severally provide the requisite per- 
fections. But, if history adopts such servile arts, it is 
nothing but poetry without the wings; the exalted tones 
are missing ; and imposition of other kinds virithout the 
assistance of metre is only the more easily detected. It 
is surely a great, a superlative weakness, this inability to 

H Z 

loo appendix 1 

distinguish history from poetry ; what, bedizen history, 
like her sister, with tale and eulogy and their attendant 
exaggerations ? as well take some mighty athlete with 
muscles of steel, rig him up with purple drapery and 
meretricious ornament, rouge and powder his cheeks ; 
faugh, what an object would one make of him with such 
defilements ! 

[Quoffist/o Historia contcribenda sit, sect. 1-8.] 


Cassius Longinus (113-273 a.d.) : » great philosophical and 
literary teacher, bom, according to varying accounts, at Palmyra, 
Emesa in Syria, or Athens, where his uncle, Phronto, taught 
rhetoric. He was a great student and interpreter of Plato, 
and did not satisfy the Neoplatonist teachers, being called by 
Plotinus a philologer and no philosopher. Porphyrins the com- 
mentator on Homer was one of his most distinguished pupils. He 
became the teacher, and afterwards the political adviser, of Queen 
Zenobia. Moved by a genuine love of liberty, he encouraged the 
Queen to assert her independence of the Emperor Aurelian ; and for 
his share in the rising he paid with his life, when Palmyra was 
taken and destroyed. Considerable fragments of his works 
remain, the most notable being a part of his Rhetoric, which had 
been intermixed in MSS. with a similar work by Apsines, and 
was extricated by the insight of the great scholar D. Ruhnken, 
though not published till after his death by W. Bake. 

' One, two, three : but where, dear Timaeus, is the 
fourth of our guests of yesterday, our entertainers of 
to-day — where is he ? " 

* The opening words of the Timaeus of Plato. 

Cassius Longinus loi 

Longinus the critic, considering this passage as to 
language, says that it is composed of three members ; 
of which the first is somewhat trivial and ordinary, 
because the expression wants connexion, but is rendered 
dignified by the second, through the variation in the 
wording, and the continuity of the phrases ; that both, 
however, receive a much greater accession of grace and 
elevation^ from the third. Thus the clause, 'One, two, 
three,' composed of unconnected terms, made style flat. 
The next clause, ' our fourth, dear Timaeus, where is he ? ' 
is varied by the ordinal ' fourth ' as against the cardinal 
numbers used before; it is also constructed of words in 
an effective manner, and in both ways makes the ex- 
pression more dignified. But the words, 'of our guests 
of yesterday, our entertainers of to-day,' over and above 
the grace and beauty of the words used, give spirit and 
elevation to the whole period by the fresh turn. 

\_From the Commentary of Proclus, Voucher, p. 274.] 

Not the least important part of an inquiry into the 
Art of Rhetoric is Style; for the arguments and all 
the parts of Discourse appear to the hearers just what 
Style makes them. Such Discourse may be called a 
light of thoughts and of trains of reasoning, illuminating 
for the judges the cogency of the proof. Accordingly, 
Style is not to be neglected ; on the contrary, the 
greatest care should be given to it, and those orators 

1 The Greek word is that used in the Treatise to express 
' Sublimity.' 

I02 Appendix I 

taken as models who have excelled in this depart- 
ment, and have invested their delivery with the 
utmost beauty and variety. There will not be the 
slightest use in a ready and nimble wit applied to 
the judgement, the discrimination, the sagacity of a 
whole train of reasoning, and its individual steps, if 
you fail to set the thoughts to the best expression, and 
to use those cadences which are most suitable, attending 
to the selection and arrangement of nouns, and to the 
number of verbs. For there are many things which 
charm a hearer, wholly apart from the thought, and the 
treatment of facts, and a study of character which 
carries conviction. Music and harmony of expression 
are found even in those animals which herd together, 
much more in one social and rational, and possessing 
a sense of symmetry. If then you could produce what is 
musical, harmonious, and rhythmical, and elaborate it 
to the utmost nicety, cutting out here, and adding there, 
taking the measure of what the time, the needs of the 
passage, the sense of beauty require, your discourse will 
be truly convincing and eloquent ; even as the poetry of 
Homer, who did not reckon this a paltry or a cheap 
matter, for each of his poems has a good and easy 
style. Take again Archilochus of Paros, for he, too, 
has taken great pains with this. Or take the Tragic 
poets in a body, or those of Comedy, or the Sophists ; 
not even those who write of philosophy have been 
careless or disdainful of style: Plato and Xenophon, 
Aeschines and Antisthenes have been extraordinarily 
careful, and have used all due pains. To the great 

Cassius Lmginus io| 

leader of the choir of orators this merit belongs as his 
own ; by this he would seem to surpass all others who 
come within the same class. 

The office of style is to give our hearers a clear, 
clean, intelligible, rational account; and, while doing so, 
never to drop proper dignity, but to appear to use and 
combine the same elements of speech, the same symbols, 
to express the subject of thought, with all the rest of 
mankind ; but to mingle with the familiar that which is 
strange, and also that which is novel and beautiful in 
the utterance; here are two marks to set before us, 
clearness in statement, and with clearness pleasure. If 
you should use Hyperbata out of season, forcibly sepa^ 
rating words, breaking the events, and disturbing the 
sequence, you will displease and irritate, and your 
language will be ambiguous and show great gaps, even 
if the period be unseasonably extended, and its limits 
exceed all measure. You will not carry men with you, 
unless you are a wizard with grace and pleasure in your 
gift, changing and embroidering your terms. 

Avoid staining the body of your discourse and 
breaking its continuous texture by words too archaic 
and unfamiliar. Again, it will not be without service 
to observe the injunctions of Isocrates; not to make 
your style rough by the juxtaposition and concurrence 
of vowels, so called, which do not admit of combination 
and therefore seem to make the texture of the language 
discontinuous, not passing it to the ear smoothly and 
without a trip, but arresting the breath and staying the 
flow of voice. » * * 

I04 appendix I 

The distinctive mark of good rhythm is clear to 
any one who has been accustomed to the effect of 
rhythmical, well turned and rounded sentences, the 
discoverers of which, those who first exhibited 
specimens of beautiful language, I enumerated above. 
If you give your mind to the matter, you will see how 
they discriminate and apportion their study of euphonious 
speech. Now they add a detail to the common, plain, 
dull phrase, the one in prevailing use among the mass 
of ordinary people, and found in every mouth. Any- 
body — the first person you meet — can say irait,tis, but 
naii^eic cxuv presents a distinctive type of language and 
phraseology ; there are many such redundant additions, 
nearly all the parts of speech, down to single letters. 
They even add two such parts, or even more; but with 
these you must take care, and observe the standard of 
language; for you must not introduce or appoint yourself 
as a law of your own making, to which to refer : the 
law of language does not rest upon us, but we upon 
the law. 

[Rhetoric of Long'mus, ch. 3.J 


The Treatise on Sublimity and Latin 

A COMPARISON of the Treatise on the Sublime 
with the specimens of the later Greek critics con- 
tained in Appendix I shows a wide divergence in 
style, treatment, and conception. Even more striking 
is the contrast, if we turn back to the works of Aristotle 
on Rhetoric and Poetic Art. Aristotle is business-like, 
analytical, ready with a shrewd anecdote or a point 
of caustic humour; he deals with literature, much as 
Bacon does, as a part of the intellectual equipment of 
the human race, and it does not come in his way to touch 
upon that quality of sublimity, or elevation, which is at 
present before us. Plato, in his own writings, and 
notably in his ' Myths,' strikes a note which is, in any 
sense of the word, sublime ; but his criticism is 
whimsical and intangible ; he disparages poetry as it 
actually existed, and places the ideal poet one degree, 
on a scale of nine, above the artisan, and two above the 
tyrant ; he exhibits the eloquence of Pericles and Cimon 
as ineffectual, if not mischievous. The author of the 
Treatise venerates Plato, and copies him, but they do not 
meet on any common ground as critics. 

Thus we cannot but be aware of a certain non-Greek 
character in the work ; it may have been partly a sense 
of this which led Mommsen to write : — 

J0(S Appendhc II 

' The dissertation on the Sublime, written in the first 
period of the Empire by an unknown author, one of the 
finest aesthetic works preserved to us from antiquity, 
certainly proceeds, if not from a Jew, at any rate 
from a man who revered alike Homer and Moses.' 

\The Provinces, Bk. viii. ch. il.J 
And again ; — 

' The gulf between that treatise on the Sublime, which 
ventures to place Homer's Poseidon, shaking land and 
sea, and Jehovah, who creates the shining sun, side by 
side, and the beginnings of the Talmud which belong 
to this epoch, marks the contrast between the Judaism 
of the first and that of the third century.' [Ibid.] 

Assuming, for there seems to be no special reason to 
question it, the substantial integrity of the text in the 
passages to which reference is made, we observe that, if 
the writer had been himself a Jew, he would not have 
quoted the opening words of the Law incorrectly. 
Nor can we speak with any certainty in the absence of 
the work of Caecilius ; many of whose illustrations are 
repeated in the Treatise, and who was, if we may believe 
Suidas, a Jew. 

It remains to ask whether the language and thought 
of the Treatise betray the influence of the Latin basis 
of the great Empire under which the author lived. 
His latest English editor ' has pointed out Latinisms of 
construction and rhythm, which we cannot usefully follow 
out here, but which seem undeniable. We notice also 
the frequent lists of words unconnected by conjunctions. 
' See Rhys Roberts, pp. ii and iS8. 

Sublimity and Latin Critics 107 

Such lists may be found in Longinus and Dionysius, 
but not so framed as to give the sense of intensity and 
fervour of which we are often aware in the Treatise, 
especially when the terms, by a device familiar in Latin 
Rhetoric, fall into pairs, or other combinations '. 

Coincidences of detail with the critic Quintilian (about 
40-118 A. D.) have been pointed out. Such are : — 

' Some are pleased with these obscurities ; when they 
have taken them in, they are delighted with their own 
penetration, enjoying them as though they had discovered, 
not heard them.' {Quint, viii. 2. 21 ; cp. p. 12.) 

' What the Greeks call fantasies we may call visions ; 
whoever has conceived these well will be most effective in 
matters of feeling.' {Quint, vi. z. 29; cp. p. 32, &c.) 

' The turning of the speech away from the judge, 
which is called Apostrophe, is wonderfully stirring.' 
{Quint, ix. 2. 38 ; cp. p. 38.) 

' As though you were to attach the mask and buskins 
of Hercules to infants.' {Quint, vi. i. 36 ; cp. p. 55.) 

' If we are likely to have gone to hazardous lengths 
in expression, we must come to the rescue with certain 
specifics, " so to speak," and the like.' 

{Quint, viii. 3, 37; cp. p. 57.) 

The treatment of the ' Figures ' and of ' Composition ' 
in Quint, ix may be compared with pp. 70-2 of the 

These instances are drawn from Vahlen's notes, 
See also Vaucher, p. 85, and add : — 

' Although these luminous effects appear to shine and 
» See pp. 17, 23-4. 

id8 appendix II 

to a certain extent to show in relief, it would be more 
true to compare them to sparks glittering in the midst 
of smoke than to flame ; they are not seen at all when the 
whole speech is in light, just as stars disappear in sun- 
shine,' {Quint, viii. 6. 29; cp. p. 41.) 

It is possible that these details may have been borrowed 
by both writers from the lost work of Caecilius. At any 
rate there is not much in common between Quintilian, 
the professional critic, writing with a limited educational 
purpose in view, though many of his judgements go 
deeper than this and are admirably expressed, and the 
exponent of the Sublime, writing for men already in public 

If we look for the most characteristic views of the 
latter, for the purpose of comparing them with anjrthing 
to be found in Latin authors, we may select two of a 
general kind, the love of civil liberty, and the sense of 
greatness in Nature. Others, which more immediately 
concern literature, may be stated as precepts : — ^Think 
great thoughts — live with great authors — form your own 
standard with reference to their practice — dare to look 
beyond your own contemporaries for applause. 

The blessings of liberty, and the numbing depression 
of the imperial system are commonplaces in Tacitus, 
and are specially prominent in the Dialogue on the Causes 
of the Decay of Oratory. ' Eloquence requires motion to 
fan it,' that stir of free civil life, which is so forcibly 
described in the Treatise. Yet neither author is a 
fanatic ; each is aware of the weakness which makes 
men praise the past, at the expense of what is within 

Sublimity and Latin Critics 109 

reach. Tacitus reminds us that the boasted liberty of 
the Republic was often turmoil and lawlessness; he allows 
that a dignified opportunism may be more patriotic 
than a pretentious death, and that examples were 
needed that even under bad emperors there might be 
great men. Both writers look beyond mere political 
status to the freedom which character alone gives — the 
emancipation from distracting desires and fears. ' All 
are slaves besides ' ; and perhaps for such it is better to 
be ruled than to live free. Here Cicero and Horace (the 
latter of whom thought and felt more earnestly on these 
subjects than he sometimes receives credit for doing), 
Persius and Juvenal, are vehemently with them in 

The awe in the presence of what is great in Nature is 
familiar to Romans. Horace speaks of those who could 
look ' with no fear ' on the mighty regularity of the heavenly 
bodies ; but he makes it clear that he is not a good enough 
Epicurean to be one of them. He laughs at the man 
who likes to draw his pint of water from a great river 
or who cuts his mouthfuls from a great mullet ; but then 
he is dealing with the avaricious man, and the glutton, 
and any stick is good enough to belabour them. Cicero's 
mind was impressed by the vastness of Nature and of 
the Universe ; he felt as a poet, and in his philosophical 
works often makes this clear, nowhere in more detail 
than in the Dream of Scifio, a fragment of his work On 
the Republic preserved by Macrobius. We hear in it of 
Nile thundering down from the cliffs and deafening the 
dwellers around, of Ganges, of Ocean, in his different 

1 1 o Appendix II 

parts, and under his diflerent names, of the great barrier 
of Caucasus ; all dwarfed when seen in relation to the 
Solar system and the Universe, yet, even so, vast 
and wonderful. The heavenly bodies themselves are 
awfiil, in their immensity, and in the regularity of their 
courses, especially in the conception of that great cycle 
of time of which the years then recorded by history were 
not a twentieth part, which was to bring the heavens 
back to their ancient order. 

As critics, Cicero and Horace have not much in com- 
mon with one another. Cicero was profoundly interested 
in the history and prospects of Roman oratory ; Horace 
never mentions it, unless to express approval of the pure 
Latinity which it exacts. Horace was deeply concerned 
for the future of Roman poetry ; Cicero loved poetry, 
especially that of his countrymen, and had much poetry 
in his own genius, but he does not contemplate poetical 
literature as a critic. In both authors, however, we have 
ideas which meet us also in the Treatise. Horace is 
constantly exhorting the young poets of Rome to study 
Greek models, and of them the greatest — his own were 
Homer, Pindar, Alcaeus, Sappho, Alcman — not the 
Alexandrians. He is himself, as Addison has well 
pointed out (see note on p. 31), singularly responsive to 
inspiration drawn from Homer. Cicero, besides giving 
us in the Brutus a series of careful and sympathetic 
portraits of Roman orators, reproduced in Latin 
the Speeches of Aeschines against Ctes'tphon and 
Demosthenes On the Crown, as an orator, he tells us, 
not as a translator, thus meeting the question, How 

Sublimity and Latin Critics 


would these masters of language have said this or this, 
had they spoken in Latin? Horace, proud of his supre- 
macy as lyric poet of Rome, assured to him by the voice of 
his contemporaries, yet looked to a more lasting reward 
in a fame which should be part of Roman history. 
Cicero thanks Brutus in touching terms ^ for reminding 
him of performances ' which will speak with a voice of 
their own when mine is silent, and live when I am 

The most remarkable judgement in the Treatise is 
that in which the author expresses his preference for 
great excellence, though marred by failure, to moderate 
excellence, however flawless. It was hardly to be 
expected that Horace should proclaim the same view, 
and indeed it was a dangerous one to send abroad in 
Rome. His anxiety was to impress upon men of his 
generation the truth that a happy gift of verse, even if 
it should amount to genius, would not ensure them 
success without study of the grammar of the poetic 
art, whatever might have been the case with Greeks 
working upon their more plastic material ; that slovenly 
work is bad work; and that a poem which declines 
from the highest, at once sinks to the lowest. Cicero, in 
the person of Antonius, requires perfection in an orator, 
since any failure is taken to come of ' stupidity.' Yet 
both writers would allow, we may be sure, unstinted 
praise to actual genius, even if it flagged palpably or spoke 
with a stammering tongue. Certainly Horace discusses 
with excellent good sense the old question of Genius 
^ Brutus, end. 

112 Appendix II 

and Art : he allows that Homer can be drowsy, though 
he himself chafes at every nod. 

Even more remarkable than this judgement itself is 
the basis upon which the author of the Treatise rests it. 
Perfection is to be exacted in a statue, for that is a work 
of art; it is not to be found in literature,_/or •words 
are an endowment luhich comes from Nature, This 
might seem to contradict Aristotle's view that Poetry 
and Painting, or Sculpture, are alike imitative arts. But 
Aristotle expressly distinguishes arts which, like Music 
(and he ranks Poetry with Music), reproduce action and 
character themselves from arts which, like Painting or 
Sculpture, imitate the features or gestures accompanying 
action or character ; between the imitation of nature in 
her processes, and the imitation of nature in her effects. 
Burke touches on the point in the last chapter of his 
Essay, but is hardly explicit ; Shelley, in his Defence of 
Poetry, goes nearer to it. 

So far as ancient literature is concerned, the reasoning 
remains unique, and we cannot expect to find it 
anticipated in Latin, Yet Latin literature itself 
furnishes a practical commentary on the strange, yet 
essential, link between greatness and imperfection. ' It 
is a noticeable result,' writes Professor Sellar, ' of the 
vastness of the task which Roman genius sets before 
itself, that two such works as the didactic poem of 
Lucretius and the Aeneid of Virgil were left unfinished 
by their authors, and given to the world in a more or 
less impwfect condition by other hands.' No poem was 
ever projected upon lines more likely to produce the 

Sublimity and Latin Critics 113 

' legitimate poem ' which Horace desires, than was the 
Aenad, none was more faithfully elaborated, and, after 
all, the great poem needs to be studied with allowances, 
over and above those due to failing time. Yet, if Horace 
had been consulted by Varius and Tucca, he would 
certainly have given his voice against that of the dying 
poet, and preserved to the world so much greatness, 
with its inseparable imperfections. 

It is not desired to draw any conclusion from these 
observations, nor indeed would any be possible. Future 
research may have some discovery in store for us as to 
the Treatise in its complete form, or as to its authorship, 
and any discovery may be in the nature of a surprise. 
It may therefore not be wholly idle to point out certain 
afEnities to Latin thought, to remind ourselves that 
Horace began his literary life by writing Greek lyrics, 
and to add that the professions of Greek nationality 
implied on p. 28 may have been understood to be merely 
conventional, a thin disguise which need deceive 
no one. 



Passages translated from Bishop Lowth^s 
Oxford Lectures on Hebrew Poetry 


Robert Lowth (1710-87), a native of Winchester, and educated 
in the College there, and at New College, Oxford, of which he was 
a Fellow (1729-50). He was Professor of Poetry at Oxford 
(1741-50), and from that Chair delivered in Latin the Lectures on 
Hebrew Poetry from which our extracts are tramlated. An argument 
used in this course drew on him an attack from Warburton, which 
he answered in a letter which has become a classic. In later life 
(1778-9) he published Isaiah, a New Translation with notes. 
He was Bishop successively of St. Davids (1 766), Oxford (l 'j66-'j'), 
and London (1767-87). 

The extracts have been chosen solely for their literary interest, 
and as showing how the Treatise on the Sublime was constantly 
in the thoughts of eighteenth-century critics ; also because many 
points relating to ' the Figures ' receive illustration in them. It is 
possible, however, that, if the arguments and illustrations were 
checked by a competent Hebrew Scholar, the contents of the 
Lectures would even now be found of value. 

I HERE understand Sublimity in the widest sense of 
the word ; not only the sublimity which puts forward 
great subjects with magnificent images and elaborate 
words, but that indescribable power in style which 
strikes the mind through and through, which stirs the 
feelings, which expresses ideas with clearness and 

l^ohert Lowth iif 

distinction, never thinking whether the words be 
simple or ornate, choice or vulgar: and in this I follow 
Longinus, the greatest authority upon Sublimity, its 
meaning and treatment. 

Sublimity lies either in the diction or in the feelings. 
In most cases it arises from both causes simultaneously, 
the one helping the other, and sharing with it its own 
force and weight, in a sort of friendly partnership. This 
does not prevent our being able to treat each separately 
without much inconvenience. We will therefore first 
look into the poetic diction of the Hebrews, in itself 
and as compared with prose, and ask what it has in it to 
deserve a name given in virtue of sublimity. 

Poetry, in whatever language, has a diction peculiarly 
its own — vigorous, grand, sonorous, in its words full to 
exaggeration, in their arrangement choice and artistic, 
far removed from vulgar usage by its entire form and 
complexion, often, in the freedom which indignation 
gives, breaking the barriers which confine common 
speech. Reason speaks with a low, temperate, gentle 
voice; is orderly in arranging its subjects, plain in 
setting terms to them, distinct in their exposition; it 
studies first of all perspicuity, careful to leave nothuig 
confused, obscure, involved. With the Feelings, there 
is not much care for all this ; ideas flow tc^ether in 
swollen stream, they struggle within; of these the more 
vehement burst out as chance wills it, wherever they 
may; whatever has life and glow and speed they snatch 
up, they do not seek out. In a word. Reason uses 
unassisted speech, the Feelings utter the language of 
t 2 

ii(J Appendix III 

poetry. Whatever be the feeling which stirs the mind, 
the mind goes deep down into that which stirs it and 
clings there, labouring to give it utterance; it is not 
enough to express a thing barely and as it actually 
is; it must express it according to its own concep- 
tion, with splendour, it may be, or melancholy, or 
exultation, or horror. For the feelings by their own 
natural force are borne towards fullness of speech; they 
marvellously enhance and exaggerate all that is within 
the mind, they strive to express it with elevation, 
magnificence, distinction ; and this they effect by two 
principal methods; either by illustrating the subject 
itself with splendid images drawn from elsewhere, or 
by introducing new and strange forms of speech; which 
have great power just because they copy, and in a manner 
reproduce, the actual condition of the mind at the time. 
Hence those Figures of which rhetorical writers make 
so much, attributing to Art the one thing which of all 
others belongs to Nature : — 

For Nature forms our spirits to receive 
Each bent that outward circumstance can give; 
She kindles pleasure, bids resentment glow. 
Or bows the soul to earth in hopeless woe; 
Then, as the tide of feeling waxes strong. 
She vents it through her conduit pipe, the tongue. 

Horace, A. P. 

What is true of the nature of all poetry will be at 
once acknowledged to hold specially good of Hebrew 
poetry. We have already seen how much power it has 
in transferring and adapting Images, and what great 

J^bert Lowth 117 

brilliance, majesty, elevation it has drawn from this. 
Then, in diction, we have observed what power to adorn 
and dignify is possessed by the poetic dialect which it 
often employs, and also by the artistic arrangement of 
sentences, so closely connected with a metrical system, 
which is itself entirely lost. We have now to ask 
whether there are any other potent el«nents in Hebrew 
poetic diction, which separate it off from that of 
prose ? 

Nothing can be conceived simpler than the ordinary 
Hebrew language: all in it is bare, straightforward, 
sane, simple; the words are neither far-fetched nor 
carefully chosen ; there is no attention to periods, not 
even a thought about them ; the very order of words is 
for the most part constant and uniform, the verb comes 
first, then the noun which denotes the agent, the rest 
follow; separate phrases express separate things, the 
adjuncts are subjoined by themselves, the parts are 
never involved, and do not obstruct one another ; most 
important of all, a single particle may carry the connexion 
unbroken from beginning to end, so that no struggling, 
or abruptness, or confusion is apparent. Thus the 
whole order of the writing, and the conUnuity of its 
connected parts, are such as to show an even mental 
condition in the writer, to reflect the image of 
a calm and tranquil spirit. But in Hebrew poetry 
the case is quite different. The spirit dashes on un- 
checked, having no leisure or will to attend to minute 
and frigid details ; its conceptions are often not clothed 
or adorned by language, but laid open and hare ; a veil 

ii8 Appendix III 

is drawn aside, so that we look straight into every 
condition and movement of the mind, the sudden 
impulse, the onward rush, the manifold turnings. 

Any one who wishes to be satisfied of this will, I am 
sure, see it for himself, if he will only make an experi- 
ment. Let him take up the book of Job, first read 
through the historical preface, and then pass on to the 
metrical part, and carefully examine Job's first speech. 
I think that he will now allow that something has 
happened : when he came to the poetry, he felt himself 
carried suddenly into what is almost another language ; 
the difference in style appeared to him greater than 
if he passed from Livy to Virgil, or even from 
Herodotus to Homer, or put down Xenophon to 
plunge into a chorus of Sophocles or Euripides. It is 
so indeed : this passage imitates a passion so vehement 
that no poet has ever attempted anything more burning 
and intense: not only are thoughts and images admirable 
in force, beauty, and sublimity, but the whole style and 
character are such, the verbal colouring so vivid, the 
piling up of matter so abundant, the sentences so close 
and continuous in their multitude, the whole fabric so 
spirited and passionate, that Poetry herself has nothing 
more poetical. Most of these points are so clear that 
they cannot possibly escape a diligent reader ; others, 
especially those relating to form and structure, lie 
somewhat deeper ; in some cases, what is powerful in 
effect, and easy to take in mentally, is hard to explain ; 
when you look into it, it seems clear ; handle it, and it 
is found to vanish. As it is much to our point, I shall 

T{ohert Lovoth 119 

endeavour, with your indulgence, to put before you a 
specimen of these beauties of style. 

The reader should first notice how violently the grief 
of Job, long boiling within his bosom, and forcibly 
confined there, breaks out : — 

Let the day perish — I was to be born on it — (i.e. on 

which I was to be born) 
And the night (which) said, There is a man child 

conceived '. 

Observe the concise, abrupt structure of the first line, 
and the bold figure, and still more abrupt construction, in 
the second. Ask yourself whether so sharp a contor- 
tion of language could have been endured in any prose 
style, or even in verse, without underlying passion of the 
strongest kind to support it. Yet you will acknowledge, 
I think, that the sense of the period is thoroughly clear, 
so clear that, if the expression were fuller and more 
explicit, it would give the thought and feeling of the 
speaker less fitly and less distinctly. By a fortunate 
accident we are able to put this to the proof; for 
Jeremiah has a passage so like this one, being so to 
say its twin, that it might seem to be copied. The 
sense is the same, and the words not very unlike ; but 
Jeremiah has filled in the gaps in the structure, smoothing 
out the broken language of Job, and expanding the short 
distich into a pair of long lines, such as he often uses: — 

Cursed be the day wherein I was bom: 
Let not the day wherein my mother bare me be 

' Job iii. 3. 

I20 appendix III 

Cursed be the man who bringing glad tidings to my 

Saying, A man child is born unto thee, made him 

very glad'- 

The result is that Jeremiah's imprecation is rather 
querulous than indignant; it is more gentle, quiet, 
plaintive, so framed as to arouse pity in a high degree, 
a feeling in which this Prophet is especially strong ; 
whereas Job does not stir pity, but inspires terror. 

Let us move on a little. We pass over obvious 
points ; the closely set thoughts, following in but 
slight connexion, and bursting with impetuosity and 
force from a burning breast ; the grand and magnificent 
words rolled along in a headlong stream of indignant 
eloquence ; we have four, in a space of twice 
as many short lines, only used, it would seem, in 
poetry ; at least, two of them constantly occur in poetry, 
and never out of it, the others are still more unfamiliar. 
Not to dwell on all this, what is the meaning of the 
fullness of language, which takes the place of the former 
curtness, in this : — 

That night — let darkness have it. 
In this, again, we have an indication of strong feeling 
and mental disturbance. No doubt he first conceived 
the sentence thus : 

Let that night be darkness. 
But, when he had started, he caught up his own words, 
and the result is increased spirit and intensity. 

' Jeremiah xx. 14, 15, 

1{ohert LoToth 121 

We return to Job — 

Lo, let that night be barren ! ' 
He seems to set before his eyes the form and image 
of that night, to look into it, to point to it with his 
finger. ' The doors of my womb ' for ' the doors of 
my mother's womb ' (v. lo) is an ellipsis which is easily 
to be supplied, but which no one when tranquil and 
master of himself would venture. Not to take up too 
much of your time, I will only quote one passage 
towards the end of this speech : 

Wherefore will he give light to him that is in misery. 

And life unto the bitter in soul; 

Which long for death, but it cometh not; 

And would dig for it more than for hid treasures; 

Which would rejoice exceedingly, and exult. 

They would triumph if they could find the grave — 

— To a man whose way is hid from the sight of God, 

And whom God hath hedged in ? 

For my sighing cometh before I eat, 

And my roarings are poured forth with my drink'. 

The composition of the whole passage is admirable : 
let us touch briefly on single points. ' Wherefore will 
he give light to him that is in misery?' Who will give? 
God, no doubt ; whom the speaker had in mind, and 
failed to notice that no mention had been made of Him 
in what went before. He seems to speak of the 
miserable in general terms, but by an abrupt turn of 
thought he applies these to himself: 'for my sighing 
cometh before I eat': from which it appears that all the 
foregoing expressions are to be understood specially of 
' Job. iii. 7. » Job iii. ao-4. 

I 22 

appendix III 

himself. He passes from singular to plural, and back 
from plural to singular, first introducing that grand 
expansion of phrase by which he expresses the desire 
for death, a bold and powerful passage ; then he 
suddenly resumes and continues the original thought 
which he seemed to have done with. From all this 
it is clear, I think, that the excitement and disturbance 
in the speaker's mind are expressed, not only by happy 
boldness in thoughts and images, and the use of 
weighty words, but even more by the whole drift and 
tenor of the speech. 

What I have thus far tried to point out in this noble 
passage, holds good, in my opinion, in a high degree 
of all Hebrew Poetry, regard being had to the subjects 
and matter; it uses a language of an active, ardent 
character, and one naturally adapted to mark the feelings. 
Hence it is full of turns of speech from which their own 
prose style shrinks, and which sometimes seem to have 
a hard and unfamiliar, even a barbarous sound; but 
which, as we may reasonably conjecture, have their own 
force and purpose, even when least patent to us. Going 
a step further, it will perhaps be worth our while to 
venture our experiments on other points of the kind, in 
the hope of clearing up some of them. 

[Lecture xiv.J 


In order to bring out more clearly Sublimity as a 
characteristic of Hebrew poetry contrasted with prose, 
I sent the reader to the Book of Job, where he may 

I^obert Lowth 123 

easily observe the great difFerence, both in matter and 
also in diction, between the historical preface, and the 
metrical sequel. As the comparison may seem unfairly 
drawn upon a passage where, even if both parts had been 
written in metre or both in plain prose, the difFerence in 
subject-matter would have required a great difference in 
style, let us now make the experiment on another place, 
taking one where the same subject-matter is treated in 
prose, and also with a poetical setting. We shall find 
an excellent example in the Book of Deuteronomy, 
where Moses takes the two parts of orator and poet. 
First, in a most impressive speech, he exhorts the 
Israelites to observe the Covenant, setting before them 
the richest rewards, and deters them from breaking it 
by threats of the greatest penalties 5 then, that this may 
sink deep and remain fixed within their hearts, he sets 
out the same theme, by the express command of God, 
in a poem which is essentially sublime. In both passages 
we perceive every quality of force, grandeur, magnificence, 
possessed by the Hebrew language in either style, and 
its great power in both ; and we see meanwhile the 
points of difference between the two, in thoughts, images, 
arrangement of subjects, form and colouring of the 
diction. Any one who may wish to look closely into 
the nature and genius of poetical expression in Hebrew 
will do well to compare these passages carefully with 
one another, and see the great difference between the 
one style, grand, no doubt, and vehement, and full, but 
also orderly, flowing, consecutive, and, for all its rush 
and vehemence, moving evenly on, and poetry, with its 

124 appendix III 

sharp, swift, thrilling sentences, elevated in thought, 
glowing in words, novel in their arrangement, varied 
in structure, as the spirit of the prophet once and 
again hurries itself from this to that, and never rests 
stationary. Most of these points are such that it is much 
easier for a careful reader to note them from his own 
observation, than it is to explain them intelligently, or 
to understand them as explained. Certain points, how- 
ever, call for notice in this noble poem, which belong to 
a class common in Hebrew poetry, yet by their great 
force, and sometimes by their extreme difficulty, demand 
more careful examination. 

A first point which I wish to notice as of general 
application, taking my example from this passage, is the 
frequent change of persons; I mean in addresses, for of 
the introduction of various speakers I have already spoken 
sufficiently. Near the beginning of the poem, Moses 
sets out the absolute truth and justice observed in all the 
counsels and doings of God ; and he takes the oppor- 
tunity to inveigh suddenly agdnst the criminal perfidy of 
the ungratefiil People ; first, as though they were not 
present : — 

They have corrupted themselves, they are not his 
children, it is their blemish ^ 

Then he addresses them directly : 
A perverse and crooked generation. 
Do ye thus requite the Lord, 
O foolish people and unwise ? 
Is not he thy father, that hath bought thee i 
He hath made thee and established thee. 

' Dent, xxxii, 5. 

'Robert Lorvth lay 

Then, as his burning indignation abates a little, and 
he looks more deeply into the matter, he sets out in 
most beautiful terms the indulgence of God and his 
more than fatherly affection towards the Israelites, 
witnessed continually since the day when he chose 
them to be his own people, and all this in language 
turned away from the Israelites ; then he marvellously 
emphasizes the dullness and stupidity of the ungrateful 
and impious people, or rather sheep. Now mark with 
what a burst the indignation of the prophet once again 
breaks forth : — 

But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: 

Thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou 

art become sleek; 
Then he forsook God which made him. 
And lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation '. 

In one brief sentence the speech is suddenly directed 
to the Israelites, and then turned from them afresh, 
with admirable effect; it is fervid, forcible, pointed, 
charged with hate and indignation. Worthy to be com- 
pared with this passage of Moses is Virgil's apostrophe, 
less burning but most ingenious, where he taunts the 
traitor with his crime, and at the same time clears the 
king of the odium of cruelty : 

'Not far off Mettus had already been torn asunder by 
the chariots driven apart — ^ah, false Alban, were you 
but a keeper of your word ! * ' 

[Lecture xv.] 

• Dent, xxxii. 15. » Aen. viii. 642. 

I2<J IV 

Additional Note on Paraphones [p. f3). 

'Deux autres musicistes grecs postfirieurs i I'ere 
chrftienne font mention d'une catfigorie intermSdiaire 
d'accords: les paraphones, expression qu'on pourrait 
rendre en franjais par demi-comonances. Thrasylle, con- 
temporain de N^ron, donne la qualification de paraphones 
aux intervalles de quinte et de quarte. L'dcrivain le 
plus recent, Gaudence, difinit les paraphones : " sons 
[accouplls] tenant le milieu entre les symphonies et les 
diaphonies, et qui, dans le jeu hStfaophone des instru- 
ments, paraissent consonants ". Tels sont, ajoute-t-il, 
I'accord de triton, formfi de la parhypate et de la 
paramese, ainsi que la tierce majeure compos£e de la 
diatonique et de la paramese.' (Gevaert et VollgrafF, 
Problhnes musicaux d'Aristote, Gand, 1899.) 

The date of Gaudentius is uncertain. No explana- 
tion is quite satisfactory which does not imply the 
resolution of one sound into several, since periphrasis is 
essentially the use of many words in place of one or 
few. It may therefore be of interest to add an explana- 
tion quoted from the Abb6 Amaud (1721-84): — 

'Je suis convaincu que, par les sons paraphones, 
Denys Longin n'entend autre chose que ces notes que 
nous appelons de gofit et de passage, et qui, loin de 
d&aturer la subsistance du chant, I'enrichissent et 
Foment infiniment. De mSme que les •variations 
musicales, qui portent dans un air un beaucoup plus 
grand norabre de sons, sans en altfirer le sens et le 
theme, lui prStent plus d'agrlment et de vie, ainsi la 
piriphrase, qui consiste i expliquer une chose par un 
certain, nombre de mots au lieu de la d&igner par son 
terme propre, donne souvent i cette chose plus d'&ergie 
et de grice. Des lors il n'y a plus d'obscuritfi; la 
comparaison devient on ne peut pas plus juste.' 



(TA« references are to pages.') 

Achilles, 35. 
Aegyptus, 48. 
Aeschines, 40. 
Aeschylus, 5, 34-5. 
Agathocles, 9. 
Ajax, 14, 18. 
Alexander, 8, 15, 57. 
Alvadae, 13. 
Ammonius, 30, 
Amphicrates, 6, 9, 
Anacreon, 56. 
Apollonius, 6r-3. 
Aratus, 25, 50. 
Archilochus, 25, 30, 62. 
Arimaspeia, The, 24. 
Aristeas, 24. 
AristogeitoD, gl-a. 
Aristophanes, 73- 
Aristotle, 57. 
Artemisium, 40. 

Bacchylides, 62. 
Boreas, 5. 

Cadmus, 48. 

Caecilius, 1, 8,13,14,56,57, 

Callisthenes, 6. 
Cassandra, 34. 
Ceyx, 51. 

Clvieroneia, 36, 39-40. 
Cicero, 28. 
Circe, a I. 
Cleitarchus, 6. 
Cleomenes, 56. 
Colossus, The, 67. 
Cyrus, 49. 

Danaus, 48. 

Demosthenes, 4, 25, 28-9, 31-2, 

36, 38, 46, 49, 51, 57, 63, 

66, 72. 
Dion, 9. 

Dionysius, 8, 35, 45. 
Dirce, 73. 

Elateia, 35, 
Elephantina, 50. 
Eratosthenes, 62. 
Erigone, 62. 
Etna, 66. 
Eupolis, 39. 
Euripides, 33, 35, 73. 

Gorgias, 6. 

Hecataeus, 51. 

Hector, 48, 51. 

Hegesias, 6. 

Helios, 33. 

Heraclidae, 51. 

Heraclides, 9. 

Hercules, *j^, 

Hermocrates, 8. 

Herodotus, 9, 10, 13, 45, 50, 

54. 56> 69> 75- 
Hesiod, 16. 
Homer, 16-22, 24, 32, 43, 

61-2, 66, 79. 
Hyperides, 36, 63-5. 

Iliad, The, 20. 
Ion Chius, 62. 
lonians, 46. 

128 Index of Proper Names 

Isocrates, 8, 44, 68-9. 
Ister, The, 66. 

Lycurgus, 35. 
Lysias, 60, 63, 65. 

Marathon, 38-41. 
Matris, 6. 
Megillus, 9. 
Meidias, 44. 
Meroe, 50, 

Miletus, Taking of, 49. 
Moses, quoted, 18. 

Nile, The, 66. 

Ocean, 66. 

Odyssey, The, 19-22. 
Oedipus Tyrannus, 48, 61. 
Oedipus Coloneus, 35, 
Orestes, 36. 

Parmenio, 15. 
Pelops, 48. 
Peloponnesus, 49. 
Penelope, 52. 
Phaethon, 33. 
Philip, 42, 56, 57. 
Philistus, 73. 
Phocaea, 45. 
Phrynichus, 49. 
Pindar, 62. 
Plataea, 38, 40. 
Plato, 9, 28, 29, 31, 48, 

58-60, 65, 66. 
Pleiads, The, 34. 


Polycleitus, 67. 
Poseidon, 17. 

Postumius Terentianus, i . 
Pygmies, The, 79. 
Pythes, 56. 
Pythia, The, 30. 

Rhine, The, 66. 

Salamis, 38-40. 
Sappho, 23. 
Sarpedon, 48. 
Simonides, 35. 
Sirius, 34. 
Socrates, 9. 
Sophocles, 6, 48. 
Spearman, The, 67. 
Stesichorus, 30. 

Terentianus, I, 3, 8. 
Theocritus, 61. 
Theodorus, 7. 
Theophrastus, 57. 
Theopompus, 35-7, 75. 
Thermopylae, 69. 
Thucydides, 31, 46, 49, 69. 
Tiber, The, 66. 
Timaens, 8, 9. 

Ulysses, 21, 22. 

Xenophon, 9, 13, 43, 49, 53, 

58. 77- 
Xerxes, 6. 

Zeus, 21. 
Zoilus, 21. 

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